Selvacava is a small village in Central Italy, home to Luke Papini‘s (aka LAPP) family and where he returns each year; it also lends its name to his latest release, a double album filled with a myriad of sounds and influences that will keep you on your toes from start to finish. Ostensibly alt folk, Luke blends Italian influenced folk with dream pop, together with experimental sounds that add a Scandinavian flavour and long, sumptuous sax infused instrumentals to make a very individual collection of songs.
The album is bookended by instrumental tracks, creating a dream like quality that is speckled throughout, both between and within some tracks. Indeed, the dream like nature of Selvacava comes from the almost stream of conscious lyricism, leading to a blurring of dream and reality – one of the recurring themes is the sometimes hazy lines between memories, dreams and history. When does memory serve you well and when does it fail? Above all, the power of shared memory that pulls you back year after year, to a place seemingly unchanged, is present from beginning to end.
Many of the songs are long, powerful ballads that evoke a time and place. The listener is drawn into a small Italian village where life is good and the comfort is that change is slow, each annual visit as a child melts into one long memory by the time of adulthood. It’s only the act of looking back that brings the realisation that village life has changed as much loved family members and friends are no longer there. Very quickly, we feel enveloped in village life, derived from the repeated use of names on different tracks, village noises used as background, all interspersed with ‘phone calls’ featuring Luke and Giuseppina. ‘Correano‘ is a great example of this.
Selvacava is an album that needs to be listened to as whole, making it tricky to pick out one track to share. Nevertheless, the song that spoke to me most was ‘Helpless‘, as close to a stand alone song as the album gets. A dreamy Italian flavoured love song, it’s up to the listener to decide who or where the love song is for.
By the time the album draws to a close, we have journeyed through a variety of emotions and experiences, from childhood, reaching adulthood, the inconsistency of memories and dreams, not to mention the particular kind of disconnect that happens when unable to visit a place in person. The power of the mind has the potential to distort the memory and this album feels like Luke’s love song to his family, their shared history and above all, the sense of peace found in Selvacava.
Luke’s advice for aspiring musicians is, appropriately enough, how to keep the dream alive:
“I think it’s important to take breaks from making music, to keep living your life. In the past I’ve beaten myself up about not putting enough time into making music. But I’ve realised that your life experiences, happy and sad moments, the times you are away from music are exactly the ones you’ll end up writing about. I think you need a healthy balance between working hard and playing hard. If you get that wrong, you can burn out.”
Selvaca is released on 30 April on Heavy Rhino Records. Get your copy here.
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