Gianna Nannini

Giannadream: Solo I Sogni Sono Veri

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Italy's female rocker par excellence, Gianna Nannini seems only to get better with age. Giannadream: Solo i Sogni Sono Veri is her 16th studio album, and it continues her winning collaboration with producer/arranger Wil Malone and songwriter Pacifico (who co-wrote five songs and sings on the last track), one that started in 2006 with the extremely successful Grazie. Nannini possesses an incredibly gripping voice, capable of sounding simultaneously tender and coarse. She has extended this duality to her music and persona, with extraordinary results, as her best records combine the tension and bursts of sonic energy of rock music with the tradition of Italian melodicism -- she calls it "heavy Puccini." Imagine Edith Piaf's dreamy moaning intersected with angry, distorted electric guitars, and you will get the idea. Giannadream kicks off with two trademark Nannini singles, "Attimo" (which features actress Valeria Solarino, who also stars in the video) and "Sogno," that pick up exactly where Grazie and the three terrific new songs included in the 2008's compilation Giannabest left off. Not content with sticking to a perfect formula, Giannadream gets more adventurous from there, Nannini and Malone taking risks with dynamics and genres, like the Namibian choir featured in "Maledetto Ciao" or the collaboration with rapper Fibra in "Siamo Nella Merda," a track that in less than four minutes contains a classical piano intro, a verse that opposes a funk bassline against strings, and a bridge that is undiluted hardcore and that suddenly switches into hip-hop -- and it all works. Things go more or less back to normal after that, but always remain imaginative and consistently engaging. Particular mention should be given to the interaction between Radiohead-style electric guitar arpeggios and sweeping string sections, and of course to Nannini's voice, the true star of the show. Lyrics, as implied in the album's title, often reflect on the nature of dreams, and sit in perfectly with the music. In short, Giannadream is an ambitious and superbly accomplished album. Coming from an established artist who could easily keep on selling records by just milking the gold mine of her voice, Nannini's restless creativity and determination to keep on making seriously good pop music is all the more commendable. [The Deluxe Edition, Extradream, adds three tracks recorded live with an orchestra at the Arena di Verona, and two new songs, "Please" and "Salvami," a duet with Giorgia recorded for the Amiche per l'Abruzzo benefit.]

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