If your neighbour listens to music at full volume and he pretends not to understand English whenever you ask him to turn it down... well, it could turn out to be Alessio Beltrami.
Alessio was born in Brescia 27 years ago and moved to London for about two years: in UK he learnt and tried out a lot of new skills which came in handy afterwards, when he moved back to Italy and had the opportunity to release "6 Pezzi + 1 Remix" (literally "6 Tracks + 1 Remix"), his first self produced album.
In Italy, Soul Music doesn't have a large following yet, with the exception of that type of R&B poisoned by commercial mainstream industry (and the fact that an incompetent such as Tiziano Ferro had so much success is a mark of that!). Italian Soul has no tradition and no history, apart from a few sporadic appearances by good soulmen such as Al Castellana.
I wish Alessio to be the new man able to launch the italian Neo Soul movement because his EP is very appealing and it's a high quality work performed with music played without the aid of too many computer enhancements.
Alessio is inspired by British Soul but also by American R&B: he can mix very well his love of the piano with Soul, Funky and Hip-Hop rhythms and arrangements. Vocally, he takes a very definite position: he can resist temptation to imitate a black voice although he makes frequent use of passages in falsetto inspired by the greats of the '70s like Prince, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.
The first track "Entro" is much more than a simple intro (its opening bars vaguely remind me of two tracks from Jon B.'s Cool Relax): after a few minutes of hip-hop rhythms and scratches by DJVigor, a piano unexpectedly breaks into the song creating a very pleasant effect.
In my opinion the worst song of the album is "Sei Difficile", in which Alessio sings in falsetto for long periods of time and the rap performance by Stokka isn't that involving.
On the contrary, the following two tracks are perhaps the best ones. "Tu, Lui, Io, Gli Altri" dimly reminds me of the best Maxwell, even vocally. It also has good lyrics but from this point of view the best one is certainly "Dammi, Sogni", probably written during his stay in London in a fit of discouragement, with a lot of nostalgia, short of money and he was afraid to have no chance of success. But nothing's impossible with the help of love and affection!
The fifth track starts with a few chords just like some American Jazz discs do but afterwards it has a very funk arrangement and includes a rap performance by Kaso.
"Prestami" is the single chosen to promote the album: it is a soft ballad with slow beats and arranged with Fender Rhodes and piano.
The CD is closed by a remix of "Tu, Lui, Io, Gli Altri" performed by my dear fellow citizen SoulDavid (another good soulman), who completely remakes the original version and shows it from another point of view.
Lyrics can be improved a little, as well as some sounds, but on the whole "6 Pezzi + 1 Remix" is enjoyable and original. I want to incite Alessio to go on his way and release another album because I do know that selling this kind of music in Italy is very hard.
If you have never heard of Alessio Beltrami, I strongly recommend you his album: you'll find out a very nice surprise!