An Italian blues artist named Mike Sponza has a great passion for the ancient Italian poets , so he decides to create an album called Ergo Sum (Latin for “Therfore I am,”) with songs based on translations from these writers, first into English and then into ‘blues.” Sounds like a crazy idea, right?
But then, Sponza involves his friend, English blues great Ian Siegel, and enlists the legendary Dana Gillespie to sing a song, takes a crack group of musicians to England’s most iconic studio, Abbey Road, and creates a really amazing, straight up blues record.
“Human passions have no age,” states Sponza in the liner notes to Ergo Sum, going on to compare Catallus, Haratius, Martalis, and Juevnallis to, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan. “In a thousand years, the questions will still be the same, and I’m sure the answers will be the same, too. Because man will never change. Luckily.”
Why does this ambitious project work? Because the songs, whether about love, jealousy, or even social commentary, do ring true for us as much as the same sentiments did more than a thousand years ago.
The album features Ian Siegal on 6 of the 8 tracks and Dana Gillespie on “The Thin Line,” with Sponza taking the vocal on “Poor Boy,” backed by band member and producer Rob Cass. Siegel is a perfect choice, as he growls, shouts, and delivers pure emotion on his songs, while Gillespie’s crystal clear voice gives the perfect chilly despair to “The Thin Line,” about the short distance between love and hate, something that surely has never changed throughout recorded human history
Sponza’s and Siegel’s guitar work and the excellent musicians on bass, drum, organ,sax and trumpet hold it all together through a mix of blues and gospel and a bit of soul , jazz and rock to create an album that can be enjoyed by any roots music lover, even if they are completely unaware of the ancient inspiration of it all. Knowing about the project just makes the achievement that much more amazing, Sponza is right. People will never change and the blues will continue to be the perfect vehicle to express primal emotions , and that’s all right.
This is an extraordinary album. Pick it up.