Not a day sooner could Piers Faccini have penned the 10 songs featured on his latest full-length studio recording, I Dreamed An Island (Six Degrees Records; October 21, 2016). Writing in real time as history unfolds and observing the troubled world in which we live, the British songwriter living in southern France responds with a heartfelt conviction. With songs such as "Oiseau" written the day after the 2015 Paris attacks as a plea to the world to wake from its terrorist nightmare; "Drone" describing the aftermath of a Syrian drone strike on a devastated town; and "Bring Down The Wall" as a response to Donald Trump's idea of building a wall along the US-Mexico border, Faccini sets poetry in motion with reflections on today's perplexing times.
I Dreamed An Island is a personal quest for Piers Faccini and the album describes his voyage towards an imagined haven through the storms of fear and intolerance currently brewing around the world. Sung mostly in English but in French, Italian dialects and Arabic, too, the album is an impassioned celebration of cultural diversity and pluralism. Searching for a bygone golden era when coexistence and religious tolerance once prevailed, Faccini found a model for his utopian haven in 12th Century Sicily. At the crossroads of Western, Arabic and Byzantine influence, the island briefly flourished as the most enlightened and advanced society in medieval Europe.
Faccini's latest compositions depict the unique moment of creative cohabitation between peoples and faiths. Inspired by traditions centuries old -- but firmly 21st century in its blending of languages, narratives and instrumental arrangements -- electric guitars converse across time with a Baroque viola d'amore, while an oud answers a medieval psaltery and a Moroccan guembri pulses trance-like to the drums.
Growing up in a trilingual family (English, Italian, French), I Dreamed An Island mirrors Faccini's own background. The songs resonate with the voices of his migrant ancestors -- and his island is a Mediterranean multilingual refuge, where orange groves, horseshoe arches, gold leaf, lapis lazuli and stories abound. Upon listening to the 10 original pieces on I Dreamed An Island, a sense of nostalgia lingers for Faccini's dreamed up utopia; an island that today seems more remote and more necessary than ever before.
Alongside Faccini, who plays a number of string instruments including a customized guitar with additional mini-frets to play quarter tones, I Dreamed An Island features a cast of multinational musicians including: Italian drummer/percussionist Simone Prattico; Tunisian violinist Jasser Haj Youssef; American double bassist Chris Wood (Medeski Martin & Wood); Franco-Iranian percussionist and saz player Bijan Chemirani; Cameroonian bassist Hilaire Penda; Italian Baroque guitarist Luca Tarantino; American psaltery player Bill Cooley; French world music pioneer and guembri player Loy Ehrlich (Toure Kunda, Alain Peters); and the English bassist Pat Donaldson (Fotheringay, Sandy Denny).
The stateside release of I Dreamed An Island follows Faccini's 2016 recording collaboration with Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Dawn Landes on the EP, Desert Songs (January 2016). An intimate suite of five compositions, Desert Songs is a meditative gem worthy of being at the top of indie-folk fans' playlists. In 2014, Faccini's collaborative album, Songs of Time Lost, with cellist Vincent Ségal ranked among NPR's "Top 10 World Music Albums of 2014" and Songlines' "Top 10 Albums of 2014." Faccini has toured with artists such as Ben Harper, Amadou & Mariam, Ballake Sissoko, and his recording catalogue includes several solo albums -- Leave No Trace (2004) Tearing Sky (2006), Two Grains of Sand (2009, voted "Album of the Year" by French radio France Inter), My Wilderness (2011), Between Dogs and Wolves (2013), the DVD A New Morning (2013), and the poetry book/CD, No One's Here (2016).
A poet, painter, and musician, Faccini has beautifully documented the making of I Dreamed An Island with notebooks and sketches filled with insights on the inspiration for the songs as well as artwork, stories and recording sessions all collected on his blog: idreamedanisland.com