Aurora D’Amico: “What You Knew Before” – the original spirit of folk

An artist who boasts the sponsorship of companies such as Fender and G7th, Aurora D’Amico is a singer-songwriter from Palermo, Italy. She studied composition at Vincenzo Bellini’s Conservatory (Palermo), and is a winner of a Berklee Online College scholarship.  At the age of 15 Aurora set aside the piano and attracted by her father’s guitar, began to write songs in English, narrating her life experiences, as well as being by country and folk legendaries such as Emmylou Harris, John Denver and later by Lucy Rose and The Staves.

In summer of 2015 Aurora debuted at the Bluebird Cafè in Nashville (Tennessee), and has since performed at various festivals and events, including important ones in Palermo. The following year she released her debut EP entitled “Barefoot”, produced and recorded in England by Nathan Mackenzie. Today, with the record label 800a Records, Aurora is working on her next album.

Aurora D’Amico is one of a few contemporary musicians whose music is audacious, stripped down, at times sullen, and nearly Goth. She stretches out, breaks with structure and with a guitar in hand, and seems to sing for an audience of one, which makes the performance utterly intimate. Her voice is absolutely stunning, but it’s almost like she’s aware of how beautiful it can be and so uses it relatively sparingly.

I am impressed with her vocals, simple acoustic arrangements, and songwriting. There is a subtle sensuality to her music. The uninitiated may hear several other singers in her sound. I would argue that any similarity is superficial, and moreover, it seems to evaporate when you immerse yourself in her recordings.

In short, if music can produce this kind of reflection, it’s a serious piece of work. Just listen to “What You Knew Before”, taken from her EP, “Barefoot” and you’ll see what I mean. The track is, overall, light and untethered, powerfully free in tone and disposition.

Aurora positions herself as a participant observer of sorts, examining the extent to which she and the person in her song are straining to accept a relationship, and each other, or if that other person has emotionally moved on to someone else, as  he soulfully intones over a soft backdrop of acoustic guitar.

Aurora D’Amico is at heart a folksinger who uses the foundational elements of song craft to express abiding truths. And like a great folksinger, she creates music, whose sounds and sentiments are much weightier than they appear on the surface, providing entry to somewhere much more wondrous and strange and troubling than it first appears.

“What You Knew Before” is a ticket for such a journey, one that provides deep insights and asks many questions. By the end of the song, one better understands the feeling of having carried, if only briefly, that weight with her.

In an era dominated by the sheen of mainstream pop, and hordes of guitar-toting, sullen faced dullards seeking to bury solipsistic mediocrity beneath a banner of artisanal craftsmanship, there are a handful of breakout artists who manage to genuinely tap into the original spirit of folk.

In this sense, Aurora D’Amico stands out as a contemporary figure who subverts traditional folk structures in order to create her own highly stylized take on the genre.


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