Gianna Nannini

Io e Te

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Trust Gianna Nannini to come up with a provocative album cover. Her big break came 30 years previously with California and its infamous portrait of the Statue of Liberty holding a vibrator in place of a torch, and on 2011's Io e Te she proudly displays her belly pregnant with her first child, at the tender age of 56 -- news that sparkled a debate in Italy about a woman's proper age to conceive. Nannini curtly -- and rightly -- stated that she is free to do whatever she wants with her life, and moved on to make music. Maternity or notoriety do not seem to have affected Nannini's craft much, as Io e Te finds her at the very same place as her more recent records, and that means pretty much at the peak of her powers. No reason to break up a winning team, reckons Nannini, as she once again relies on the services of songwriter Pacifico, writer Isabella Santacroce, and producer/arranger Wil Malone for another strong collection of originals. Contrary to the more abrasive sound of 2009's Giannadream, the London Studio Orchestra (conducted by Perry Montague) arguably becomes the star of Io e Te, lifting Nannini's already typically sweeping melodies to operatic heights. Once more, trust Gianna Nannini to come up with a solid album, and a killer leadoff single in "Ogni Tanto." As with many of Nannini's openers, this truly beautiful paean to Nannini's child, co-written by Pacifico, unleashes the force of nature that is Nannini's voice in a crescendo upon the listener, leaving him/her shellshocked for the remainder of the album. The first half of Io e Te repeats the formula with minor variations and is uniformly splendid ("Perfetto," "I Wanna Die 4 U"). The rest suffers only by comparison, chiefly due to the logical wear of the initial impact, as well as the inclusion of a few lesser rock songs and the umpteenth cover of "Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)," an odd version that has been described as "Domenico Modugno meets Rage Against the Machine." Io e Te had a thoroughly deserved excellent reception in Italy: Nannini may be 56 and a mom, but she is definitely enjoying one of the best moments of her career. One is happy to think, probably of her life as well.

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