The song of a life of crime, tunes of prison life, music of the Mafioso.
This music here has been passed down for many generations. It was recorded and sold at open-air markets, which most Italians found offensive because it glorified mafia life. Kind of similar to the public outcry toward gangsta rap in the ’90s. At first listen, these songs feel like whimsical sometimes optimistic folk tunes, drifting from the beaches of Sicily, over the mountains of Calabria, to the gulfs of Campania.
Once you take a look at the lyrics sheet, however, you find yourself in back alleys, jail cells, and funeral processions. Whether singing of honor, family, or grief, these songs take you into an underground world filled with death and glory. The instrumentation takes on several forms, with any combination of guitar, accordion, tambourine, scacciapensieri (better know to us as a jew’s harp, a staple in traditional Sicilian music), and more.
Do not miss the liner notes with this release, if only for the translated lyrics. Enjoy!