Roberto Vecchioni

Chiamami Ancora Amore

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"Chiamami Ancora Amore" is the name of the song with which Roberto Vecchioni became the unlikely winner of the 2011 Sanremo Festival. Unlikely because in recent years the festival had become little more than a promotional stage for young singers of the television reality and talent shows brand. Vecchioni, on the other hand, has been one of Italy's most beloved singer/songwriters since the 1970s, as well as a Latin and Greek professor. The winner song is standard Sanremo fare of the high-class variety, a love song (obviously) with sweeping violins, a rousing chorus, impassioned singing, and -- and here is the key difference -- sensitive rather than trite lyrics. Vecchioni has often said that in his writing he aims at the crossroads between the intelligence of the singer/songwriter tradition and the emotional appeal of popular songs, and "Chiamami Ancora Amore" is an excellent example of this synthesis. However, as they say in Italy, one tree does not make up a forest, so soon enough after the festival was over, Vecchioni gathered together a dozen songs in a similar vein he had recorded since the mid-'80s, and was thus able to release Chiamami Ancora Amore in an album format. Fortunately, one does not need to become too cynical, because this compilation is actually very well put together. As it includes only sentimental ballads, it certainly does not offer a comprehensive portrait of Vecchioni's oeuvre, but it is not supposed to: it is meant as Vecchioni's tribute to the women who have inspired him, and presents him at his most melodic, and if you will, his most Sanremo side. Women are also represented in this collection's three duets, all with female artists, Ornella Vanoni, Dolcenera, and pianist Federica Fornabaio. Vecchioni also pays tribute to the festival grand tradition, performing standards by Luigi Tenco and Bruno Lauzi, as well as to the singer/songwriter tradition, with a cover of Fabrizio De André's "Hotel Supramonte." Finally, he introduces three new songs, the title track, the bittersweet nostalgia of "Mi Porterò," and the only non-exclusively love song "La Casa delle Farfalle," with lyrics that are a hybrid between De André's "La Guerra di Piero" and Francesco De Gregori's "Generale." Built out of granitic good taste and internal coherence, this compilation is an utterly dignified affair. One can only hope Vecchioni's example could inspire future Sanremo winners -- or at least contestants.

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