Tearing Sky reviewed:
from URB MAGAZINE 4 1/2 Stars!
From the organ that opens up this LP to Piers Faccini's heartbreaking voice that shelters and simultaneously shatters as he sings "and the ocean knows each wave that breaks is comin' home," this is music that captivates and captures your imagination. Before long, the rhythms of "Sharpening Bone" and "If I" are having its way with soul, making it groove and soar. Faccini, already popular in his native France, worked with Ben Harper/Jack Johnson producer JP Plunier on Tearing Sky, recording it in less than two weeks in Los Feliz, California. Plunier has a way of bringing out the details in his nuanced artists and his work with Faccini is no exception. He has the quiet, whispering, plate-shifting soul similar to that of Harper and Johnson and, like his contemporaries, he isn't afraid of rising to the occasion or opening up the experience to sounds from across the world, other rooms, galaxies. It's sometimes eerie, sometimes haunting and also consistent. An all-around standout that manages never to show off.
"...uses just a few instruments and echoes of Celtic tunes to whisper of grand mysteries." - The NY Times
"...the songs on Tearing Sky showcase worlds that he has truly inhabited: Southern California colors with rainy British folk, Malian Blues and tribal percussion that transcends (or predates) nations...he's starting to master the recipe." - Planet Magazine
"If your ears love Ben Harper they will also love the sound of London-born vocalist Piers Faccini...Sheer musical bliss." - CBS-5, San Francisco, CA
Piers Faccini Tearing Sky Biography
Call it a netherworld, a sweet spot. That’s where the songs composing Tearing Sky, the U.S. debut from Piers Faccini, rest, where they come alive—some sort of intangible middle ground that exists between English folk, the blues of the Mississippi Delta and the rhythms of North Africa.
And if the songs sound as if they were culled from all over the musical map, well, then that would be appropriate, as the nomadic Faccini fancies himself and his music as very much a cultural and musical collage or hybrid drawn from the various races dotting his lineage, and years spent splitting time between London and Paris.
Born in London, Faccini speaks four languages and considers himself a “mongrel” of sorts, one who has gypsy, Polish, English, Irish and Italian blood running through his veins—which he thanks for creating an openness in his life and a curiosity with which he has been able to absorb cultures and music from around the globe.
It’s what lends universality to both his music and lyrics. And it’s perhaps what made the sessions for Tearing Sky so smooth. The band featured on the disc, Faccini’s second solo disc (and the follow-up to the Streets of London EP released earlier this year in the U.S.), is a collective of players who spend the bulk of their year backing lauded American stars Jack Johnson and Ben Harper—longtime friends and musical compatriots of Tearing Sky producer, Ben Harper manager and Everloving co-owner, JP Plunier.
Plunier cast Ben Harper’s Innocent Criminals’ bassist Juan Nelson and Jack Johnson drummer Adam Topol as key players in the Tearing Sky sessions. Percussionist Leon Mobley and drummer Oliver Charles, also Innocent Criminals, appear with Merlo Podlewski (Jack Johnson), Inara George, legendary multi-instrumentalist Chris Darrow and Harper himself (backing vocals on leadoff track “Each Wave That Breaks”).
Recorded at Sonora Studios in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood, the 14 tracks find Faccini conjuring the late cult figure Nick Drake and freak-folk pioneer Devendra Banhart, while emerging as a kindred spirit to the likes of such below-the-radar greats as the band Spain. The songs’ distinctive feel are laced with the sonance of the world: bodhran, karkabous, sarod and tambura.
Through daydream-like moments like “Walk Over to You,” a song about the passing of his father, Faccini’s songs are analogous to passing moods, sometimes placid and swaying, at other times slightly rougher and subtly erotic. His poems are meditations on life and death, creating life, or walking through the wilderness. Gentle and smart, they rise and fall like the tide, giving Tearing Sky its fluidity.
“When you write a song, you’re trying to figure something out for yourself,” he says, from his village home based in the forests of Southern France. “And after you figure it out for yourself—whatever it is you’re trying to figure out—you realize that it’s universal, it’s the same for everyone. It’s beyond the personal.”
If hearing Verdi at 7 forever changed young Piers, music still wasn’t the obvious path for him as a young man. Instead, he chose art—eventually attending art school in Paris, but not before teaching himself how to play guitar, inspired by Dylan, Marley, The Clash. However, the first time he heard American bluesman Skip James, he immediately went out and sold all of his Smiths records—which he regrets now, he says with a laugh. “It was just the first time I heard true, 100 percent true, honest music.” His love for American blues brought him to the great, recently deceased Malian bluesman Ali Farka Toure, which in itself led to further discoveries.
While honing his skills as a painter —he continues to exhibit and sell his work today— he shyly wrote songs for himself, until friend Francesca Beard nudged him to get onto a stage, eventually birthing their group Charley Marlowe. They produced the lone EP This Could Be You before calling it quits after some five years.
With his 2004 European debut, Leave No Trace, Faccini (who has recently toured with the blind Malian sensations Amadou & Miriam, Ben Harper and Adam Topol’s Culver City Dub Collective) documented a voice that was coalescing. In early 2006, The Streets of London EP was released on Everloving, also the home for Tearing Sky, which was very much a product of his surroundings—the south of France.
“A lot of the songs came from this very rural place, where there are a lot of hills, which make the countryside look a lot like Northern California, weirdly. There’s a Mediterranean climate there, it’s almost barren and desert-like, with beautiful light.”
It was a place where he and his songs could take on an almost Shaman-like quality, where he could squeeze Mississippi laments, the trance Pizzica of Southern Italy, the music of the Malian desert and the haunting tales of English folk from his guitar, and from his heart.
“One of the things that I always really felt about people like Skip James is that when I listened and figured out what they were saying, it really just felt like it was at the other end of the scale from ‘She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah).’ It was about life. It was about the total, essential cornerstone of what life is about, which is being born and dying, and loving and hating, God, or whatever. And those are the themes that I like to deal with. And I don’t want to do it in any heavy way, but I want to do it in a way where people feel like the music is saying something profound, that can be affecting.”
visit myspace.com/piersfaccini or everloving.com for more info