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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM): Emotional Tattoos

The name Premiata Forneria Marconi, or PFM for short, needs no introduction, the Italian band being one of the legendary names of classic '70s progressive rock, whose early material rivals the output of Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, and the like in the eyes of many. Fast forward to 2017 and the band are still going strong, here releasing their 19th album Emotional Tattoos for InsideOut Records, presented in both English language and Italian language formats (so you'll get to enjoy both and choose the one you favor.) Still manning the drum kit and lead vocal slot is founder Franz Di Cioccio, along with longtime bassist Patrick Djivas. Joining the duo are guitar shredder Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Alessandro Scaglione (keyboards), Alberto Bravin (keyboards, vocals), Lucio Fabbri (violin, keyboards, guitar, vocals), and Roberto Gualdi (2nd drums) rounding out the current version of the band.

While I certainly won't declare that Emotional Tattoos is a return to the glory days of Per un Amico or Storia di un minuto, the band does try and recapture some of their prog majesty. Vibrant opener "We're Not An Island is an upbeat symphonic rocker, the vocals melodic and plenty of tasty keyboard lines to be found, while "Morning Freedom" and "The Lesson" allow guitar virtuoso Sfogli plenty of room to blaze a path with his tasty solos. Nice use of acoustic guitars alongside the synths on the quirky "A Day We Share", and "Central District" has more of a hard rock tone with some catchy pop hooks, Di Cioccio sounding like an Italian version of Peter Gabriel. In fact, much of the music throughout Emotional Tattoos is not unlike some of the '80s material from the former Genesis frontman, which, depending on your expectations of this album, might or might not be a good thing. "Freedom Square" is a blazing instrumental with dueling keyboards, violin, and guitar, and a must hear for any Dixie Dregs fan, easily one of the more prog-tinged tracks here with a touch of fusion. Sfogli's metallic riffing permeates "I'm Just a Sound", and the groove laden "It's My Road" has some cool synth textures, jazzy piano, and tasty guitar licks.

To be honest, as was always the case with this band, the Italian language version of the album is the more pleasing to the ears, as Di Cioccio sounds just so much more confident singing in his native tongue, plus the Italian language is so beautiful to listen to. I'm already hearing from some prog fans that Emotional Tattoos doesn't have enough 'vintage sounding prog' for their liking, and while they might not be far off on that statement, this is sure as hell a step in the right direction. Half of this album has plenty of the dramatic, romantic, and symphonic progressive rock the band were always known for, the other half is solid pop rock with a touch of prog. Overall, not bad by any means and easy to recommend, but I think for most, it will be just good to have PFM back creating new music once again that at least partly resembles their fantastic '70s output.

Track Listing
1. We're Not An Island (7:12)
2. Morning Freedom (6:06)
3. The Lesson (5:08)
4. So Long (5:56)
5. A Day We Share (6:03)
6. There's A Fire In Me (4:55)
7. Central District (5:27)
8. Freedom Square (Instrumental) (4:47)
9. I'm Just A Sound (5:57)
10. Hannah (5:16)
11. It's My Road (5:07)

Added: October 28th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 320
Language: english

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