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Jack Savoretti - Europiana (Album Review)

Wednesday, 07 July 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Chris Floyd

If albums were rated according to best intentions, even the most bitter listener would happily give Jack Savoretti’s sojourn into the worlds of disco, funk and ‘80s synth-pop a big thumbs up. Designed as a soundtrack to the summer holidays we’ve recently been denied, the singer wanted ‘Europiana’ to provide much needed escapism after a year of turmoil and to celebrate the music that binds citizens of Europe together. A lofty goal.

When he began making this follow up to 2019’s ‘Singing To Strangers’, Savoretti wanted to craft the kind of American yacht rock-styled record—only with this particular vessel anchored in the Mediterranean—that would conjure the kind of inescapable mega-hits you hear in bars, clubs and restaurants across the continent.

Gleefully referencing everyone from Abba, Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder to Julio Iglesias, Charles Aznavour and Phoenix, while acknowledging how bands like Chic and the West Coast AOR scene influenced European music, ‘Europiana’ is a glorious sounding affair.

Remember Me mixes luscious Morricone strings and bubbling synths with fittingly exotic accordion and marxophone flourishes. Each And Every Moment, meanwhile, is pure, sun-soaked carpe diem replete with a euphoric sax break, soaring soft-rocker Calling Me Back To You delivers a beacon of pure optimism thanks to its anthemic crest-of-a-wave hook and You Only Love Me When You’re Lonely, featuring soulful backing vocals from John Oates, is blissfully smooth.

Mixing classic and contemporary touchstones to imbue the requisite atmospherics, Dancing in the Living Room, propelled by one of this record’s many imperious basslines, is an exhilarating disco-pop carnival, while The Way You Said Goodbye could be Christopher Cross’s Arthur’s Theme remade for lonesome Parisian nights.  But if these cuts find Savoretti vacationing in fresh stylistic waters with impressive results, things are less effective when his tortured troubadour background gets in the way.  

Who’s Hurting Who, although offering an appropriate Nile Rodgers cameo, is an upbeat piece that demands a celebratory lyric rather than the ill-fitting, serious tale of relationship woes that’s served up. Likewise, his earnest voice doesn’t sit well astride parping euro-synths on Secret Life’s limp chorus, while its initially mysterious lyric descends into boring repentance at the expense of a more exciting pay off.  

Whether looking back with bittersweet reflectiveness, or spinning tales in the present, most of these songs focus on predictable romantic difficulties from a misguidedly mature viewpoint. Where are the stories of magical holiday romances, electrifying one night stands, making fast friends with people you never see again, and having your mind blown by eye-opening cultural landmarks?  

While the nostalgic numbers represent this record’s most emotionally satisfying moments, particularly the spine-tingling More Than Ever, much of its storytelling is too middle aged and neither suits the music’s youthful exuberance nor makes good on the whole escapist experience we were promised.  

Thankfully, Savoretti’s immensely heartfelt, passionate and powerfully sincere delivery means he could sing a statement from the world’s most dishonest politician and still make it sound like an unimpeachable truth. That dynamic not only redeems many of this record’s flaws, but also gives the songs a weight of substance and universal appeal that, in tandem with their very commercial musical backbone, just about does the overall concept justice.

Jack Savoretti Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat September 11 2021 - CAMBRIDGE Chilerley Orchard
Wed September 15 2021 - KINGSTON UPON THAMES New Slang (Pryzm)
Thu March 24 2022 - PLYMOUTH Plymouth Pavilions
Fri March 25 2022 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Sun March 27 2022 - CHELTENHAM Centaur
Mon March 28 2022 - BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall
Thu March 31 2022 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 City Hall, Newcastle
Sat April 02 2022 - SHEFFIELD Sheffield City Hall Oval Hall
Sun April 03 2022 - NOTTINGHAM Royal Concert Hall Notts
Tue April 05 2022 - EDINBURGH Usher Hall
Wed April 06 2022 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Fri April 08 2022 - HULL Bonus Arena, Hull
Sun April 10 2022 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Wed April 13 2022 - LONDON Eventim Apollo

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