It may sound like it's hailing from the French café scene, but the contemporary music Putumayo pulled from the Roman circuits is entirely Italian. There's a deliberate look backward in these pieces, toward musical metaphors of la dolce vita. At the same time, there's a strong singer/songwriter movement taking hold in the country. With those influences, as well as additional bits of originality from the performers, the sound is a surprisingly casual one. The opening track, courtesy of Simone Lo Porto, incorporates a Brazilian vibe into a laid-back bit of song. Rossomalpelo sings an ode to the beach that self-consciously serves as a nice beach ballad with a chanson-style vocal delivery on the side. A bit of tango creeps into Alessandro Pitoni's contribution, along with what almost sounds like a reggae beat from Bandabardo. A very nice mix of upbeat dance and chanson-style vocal deliveries comes from Giorgio Conte (brother to the venerable Paolo Conte), former disco queen Lu Colombo provides some restrained gypsy swing in conjunction with Maurizio Geri, and Gianmaria Testa contributes a particularly quiet, delicate bit of acoustic guitar. After a couple of forays into folk and jazz, the album ends with a pair of bouncing, bawdier pieces, combining more Mediterranean sounds and drinking songs with the basic singer/songwriter composition style that had made itself clear throughout the album. This music isn't all purely Italian in its origin, but it's Italian as Italian is now. This is the contemporary music of the clubs throughout the country, the underground scene that had been ignoring the Euro-dance crazes and quietly tinkering away with its own sound over the years, now given its due on an American market.