X Factor runner-up Giusy Ferreri transitioned impressively from television celebrity to pop star with the smash hit single "Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me," her commercial recording debut. Written by Tiziano Ferro and Roberto Casalino, the song was released in June 2008 and topped the Italian singles chart for months. Released later in the year, Gaetana, Ferreri's full-length solo debut, follows in the direction of "Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me," one of several frontloaded highlights on the 13-track album, over half of which is written by Ferro and Casalino. When "Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me" was first released months prior to Gaetana, critics were quick to draw comparisons between Ferreri and English soul-pop superstar Amy Winehouse. Indeed, the similarities between "Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me" and "Back to Black," the hit single title track from Winehouse's recent commercial blockbuster album Back to Black (2006), are striking and too close for comfort. Thankfully, Ferro and Casalino come up with more original yet similarly appealing material for Gaetana. One of their contributions, "Novembre," the follow-up single to "Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me," is somewhat similar in style to Winehouse (who, it should be noted, doesn't have a monopoly on the throwback soul-pop style), but once again, Ferreri puts a lot of herself into the song, more than enough to make it her own. She belts out the chorus with great passion and showcases the vocal prowess that made her a fan favorite on X Factor. Ferreri also shines on "Stai Fermo Lì," an atmospheric Ferro contribution whose chorus showcases the power of her vocals. In addition to the Ferro and Casalino songs, Gaetana includes four songs written by Ferreri herself, including the album-closing standout "Il Party," and a couple songs written by American singer/songwriter Linda Perry that were adapted to Italian by Ferro. One of the Perry songs, "La Scala (The Ladder)," turns out great. It's an incredible song on which the influence of Perry, the one-time frontwoman of the alternative rock band 4 Non Blondes, is clearly evident. Just as Ferreri was able to rival Winehouse as a soul-pop powerhouse, she rivals Perry as a singer of tortured rock and surpasses her vocally. If it weren't already evident with the release of "Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me," Gaetana further demonstrates Ferreri's ability to deliver the goods as a singer, whether it's soul-pop à la Winehouse or alternative rock à la Perry. All of the aforementioned songs are album highlights, though it remains to be seen whether Ferreri develops as a songwriter with a style of her own. Her reliance on professional songwriters is understandable at this juncture, having just graduated from X Factor, but she's so promising as a vocalist, one hopes she can find her voice as a songwriter too.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier