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Virtually every U.S. review of Paolo Conte’s work makes the same overly simplified comparison: He’s the Italian Tom Waits. But even though Conte’s lush, multilayered, multilingual, molto cosmopolitan sound doesn’t have much precedent here in the United States, that still doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a little more attention. Contewho’s also a passionate visual artistpens evocative compositions that reflect his penchant for fluid musical lines and intense bursts of lyrical color. He makes new out of old by freely blending traditional Italian accordion melodies, ragtime, tango, swing, and blues. His strange, often funny poetic lyrics visit love, lemon ice cream, Harlem, and Genoa, and he seamlessly shifts his delivery from Italian to French to English. Contea former lawyer from the small town of Asti (as in Asti Spumante)began his recording career in 1974, and he has since released more than 10 albums. 1998’s The Best of Paolo Conte, his only recording to be widely distributed across the Atlantic, was named Record of the Year by both Rolling Stone and the New Yorker. This weekend, Conte will be joined by an eight-piece band. And if we’re lucky, he’ll grace us with a song or two from his latest project, Razmataz, a multimedia piece set in ’20s Paris. Conte grumbles onto the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $35-$55. (202) 432-7328. (Holly Bass)