Patrizio Buanne is veritably obsessed with the sound and style of the 1950s and '60s. As a child, he won an Elvis impersonation competition when he dressed as a young version of the King, and he grew up listening almost solely to Italian or Italian-inspired music from that same time period. And now, with his debut album, The Italian, he is able to sing many of the songs he loves. Recorded in London with the Royal Philharmonic, The Italian often harks back to the sound of the original recordings, like in Jimmy Fontana's "Il Mondo," Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love," or Mario Lanza's "Come Prima," and Buanne sounds good, his baritone blending well with the orchestra. However, Buanne runs into problems when he tries to modernize the classics. While "Parla Più Piano," from The Godfather, starts out nicely, the addition of a dance-like drumbeat sounds corny and forced. Even worse is the cover of Fontana's "Che Sarà," which turns the song into an easy listening radio favorite, culminating in a gospely choral extravaganza, with alternating phrases from the crooning Buanne, who transforms the lines of leaving one's prospectless town (but with the intention of returning) into overly dramatic lovesickness, and the choir, whose sharp interpretation of the normally fluid Italian syllables gives a threatening feel to the piece. The only truly successful of these adaptations is "L'Italiano," which adds a nicely moving piano line, an electric guitar, and a brass section to the already great song, and sounds new but not kitschy. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of "Home to Mamma," which Buanne helped co-write. It's a bizarre mix of "Funiculi, Funicula," Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5," and the Italian male's devotion to his mother, and is more confusing than anything else. The same adjective can also be applied to the Italian-language version of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" (called "Alta Marea" here), or the closer, "Credi in Te," which is reminiscent of both Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection" and Andrea Bocelli. Buanne has a fantastic voice, and his genuine love of the music is apparent, but he needs to stop trying to add so much to the songs, and just sing them how they were meant to be sung.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown