Di Sana Pianta

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In the opening song on his solo debut, former Articolo 31 member J-Ax sings "Io non sono rock, io non son hip-hop/Mi odiano i puristi, sono troppo pop" ("I am not rock, I am not hip-hop/The purists hate me, I'm far too poppy"). This is probably the most honest and accurate statement he makes throughout the entirety of Di Sana Pianta, which was recorded in America with help from Hole's Samantha Maloney, A Perfect Circle's Troy Van Leeuwen, and studio musician Josh Schwartz, among others, because what he ends up with is something that sounds closer to radio-friendly pop than anything else. Yes, his and his band's punk influences are occasionally heard -- his raspy voice, the driving power chords -- and J-Ax does know how to write a catchy melody, but the album soon becomes a tired repetition of itself. J-Ax might start off more quietly, trying to sing his vaguely stream-of-consciousness, vaguely socially critical, vaguely I-don't-give-a-damn lyrics more slowly, but he inevitably reverts to the melodic rapping he was known for with Articolo 31, there's the same reggae-based inflection repeated over and over. He seems aware of this tendency to repeat himself, and tries to make up for it by incorporating other influences -- hard rock, alternative, summery pop -- into his songs, but it ends up coming across as forced and over-produced, sounding more like a second-rate version of Good Charlotte or even Everclear, and though he does have the occasional good line (including one of the first to allude to the infamous head-butting incident during the France-Italy final of the 2006 World Cup), things fall short, both lyrically and compositionally. J-Ax may have tried hard to distance himself from Articolo 31 with Di Sana Pianta, wanting to show off his other musical interests, but it might have been better if he had stuck with what gained him fame in the first place instead.

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