Picks and Pans Review: Francesca Beghè
You have your rustic, canned-pea salad bar, and you have your elegant, get-out-the—lobster-fork buffet. By the same token, you have singers who idly do a little of this and that, and then you have singers whose styles reflect a real enjoyment and understanding of what is on the various shelves of pop music.
Beghè is one of those musical gourmets. From the sound of this envigorating debut album, it’s clear that she has had time to appreciate and sing a little rock, jazz, soul, gospel, Latin-flavored pop, and her informed respect for all those genres is evident.
Beghè wrote or cowrote all 11 of the songs on the LP. There’s a strained tribute to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.—”Names on a Wall”—but the other tunes are smartly written, both lyrically and melodically.
In “Lost in America,” for instance, Beghè sings, “This foreign guy, with X-ray eyes/He said, ‘You Americans with your clean dreams and happy faces/Who do you think you are?/Do you think life is like Hollywood Boulevard?” The regretful “Should’ve Been Me” includes the confession “I would give a 100 years of attitude/If you would just give it to me—one more chance.”
“Little Angelina” is a hard-to-resist, semifunky rocker that would have suited Wilson Pickett, among others. (Beghè also sings “Trust in Me,” which Joe Cocker did record, to both their credits.)
Producers Charlie Midnight and John Rollo have effectively synthesized Beghè’s influences into a coherent, nicely paced package. Beghè also plays keyboards with a backup group that includes the Cars’ Elliot Easton, sometime Madonna-guitarist Paul Pesco, and Lenny Pickett, a saxophonist whose solo flurries are a welcome flourish.
Beghè’s singing style is variously reminiscent of Carly Simon. Basia, Bonnie Raitt and, best of all, nobody you ever heard of. She should be welcomed with open ears and arms, except perhaps by those record-store clerks who have to figure out what bin to put her in. (SBK)