Malika Ayane


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Malika Ayane's sophomore album, Grovigli, never strays too far away from the mold set by her fine debut album, but improves on it by virtue of a tighter production and slightly better songs. Once more Ayane sings half the material in Italian and half in English, but the album has a more homogeneous feel to it, courtesy of Ferdinando Arnò's stylish production. Furthermore, Ayane wisely turned again to two formidable songwriters already present in her first CD, Pacifico and Paolo Conte, who are unsurprisingly responsible for the record's best moments. Pacifico's "Ricomincio da Qui" is Grovigli's leadoff track and first single. Also featuring a string arrangement by Vincent Mendoza (Björk, Joni Mitchell, Robbie Williams), it earned Ayane the coveted Critics' Prize at the 2010 San Remo Festival. Although Ayane's version of Conte's "Chiamami Adesso" is no match for the original, her duet with the legend himself in "Little Brown Bear" is alone worth the price of admission. The same also applies to a tender cover of Nicola Di Bari's "La Prima Cosa Bella," arguably Ayane's best performance to date and the main title song of Paolo Virzì's acclaimed 2010 film. The rest of Grovigli does not reach such peaks, but it certainly sustains interest. This is a finely crafted record, clearly intended for a mainstream contemporary adult audience but that never panders to it -- rather, it makes a point of maintaining a high standard of quality throughout. The main point of the record, however, was probably to continue to promote Malika Ayane's image of a cosmopolitan, sophisticated pop songstress. In that respect at least, Grovigli should be considered a resounding success.

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