Laura Pausini, a multilingual Italian pop singer who won a Latin Grammy in 2005 for Best Female Pop Vocal Album, decided to record an album of cover songs when she returned to the studio to record her followup effort. This is a fairly standard practice for pop/rock artists, of course, especially in the wake of a mammoth success like the one Pausini experienced with Resta in Ascolto (released concurrently in Spanish as Escucha in the U.S.). Io Canto (likewise released concurrently in Spanish, as Yo Canto) is a somewhat unusual covers album, however, for it's comprised of Italian pop/rock songs from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s -- few, if any, of which will be familiar to listeners across the Atlantic. Pausini performs the songs in a manner similar to that of Resta in Ascolto: the songs are heavily produced, layered with guitar, bass, and drums in addition to strings and synthesizers, and the performances are quite dramatic, often soaring to intense heights during the choruses, complemented by lyrics that are moody and poetic. Consequently, anyone who enjoyed Resta in Ascolto will find much to savor on Io Canto, as the two albums sound similar musically. The difference is in the songwriting, which is wonderfully varied, in terms of lyrics as well as arrangements, resulting in one of the most interesting albums of Pausini's career to date. Io Canto is interesting not only because of the array of songwriting showcased throughout, but also because of how personal these songs are to Pausini. She expresses this herself in her liner notes: "Recording an album of covers, and therefore having to choose among the songs which have been with me, are with me, and will be with me every day of my life, was no easy task. It would take ten albums like this one just to be able to touch on the essence of all the music I love. Decisions had to be made. And decisions were made. And so here is the music I listen to when I'm at my saddest, or when I feel a moment is special, the songs I used to sing as a young girl when I first started performing, and above all those which taught me to love music, and how music can move you so deeply, regardless of its genre or style." A lot of the songs on Io Canto are indeed deeply moving, beginning with the surging title track, which opens the album powerfully, as if sung from a mountaintop with arms outstretched. And so begins the second dazzling album in a row by Pausini, who seems to have found a comfortable place for herself musically in the wake of the indifference shown to her English-language crossover bid in 2002. That disappointing album's title was From the Inside, but this album feels ten times more heartfelt, as these covers reveal aspects of Pausini's personality generally eclipsed by the towering melodrama of the usual material bestowed upon an international mega-star of her stature.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
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