To call Gianmaria Testa Italy's Leonard Cohen isn't fair to either man, but it's an inviting comparison. Both are very poetic lyricists, very aware of the human condition, and the roughness of their voices -- well-inhabited, perhaps -- isn't a million miles apart. This live disc marks a good starting point for those who don't know Testa's work. It's very stripped-down, just him and his guitar, about as bare as it can get, which actually shows the beauty of his songs without clutter. Much of the material is older, some of it quite beautiful, such as "Biancaluca" and "Polvere di Gesso," songs that transcend language. Testa is aware, not just politically, but very much of the human condition. These are songs with depth, songs as more than entertainment, with no concession to commercial success; in other words, songs as art. That said, he's obviously a skilled performer, adept at keeping his audience spellbound. It doesn't matter if you don't speak Italian. The mood communicates instantly, as does the heart of it all. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi

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