Malika Ayane

Ricreazione

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The third studio outing by Malika Ayane introduces a significant change in the singer's rising career, as for the first time she dispensed with the services of producer, main songwriter, and mentor Ferdinando ArnĂ² and chose instead to produce herself. Furthermore, Ayane was also in charge of arrangements and co-wrote most of the material (including the first song penned entirely on her own, the opener "Grovigli," left in demo form). On the other hand, Ayane balanced her newly found independence with an even greater number of collaborators, from mainstays Pacifico and Paolo Conte to an assorted range of associates including Tricarico, Boosta, Paolo Buonvino, Romeus, and the Niro, among others. The list goes a long way to explain Ricreazione's heterogeneous nature, which unfortunately ends up becoming less than the sum of its parts. As always, Ayane's voice is the album's focal point, but for the first time it often seems to be its only running thread. Smoky and intimate as ever, it can make a batch of songs admittedly a notch down from her previous efforts into sophisticated background music, but the album's eclecticism prevents it from becoming a full-blown mood piece. A case in point is Ricreazione's first single, and true highlight, the Belle & Sebastian look-alike "Tre Cose." The song has enjoyed considerable success in Italy, but at the same time has been criticized for giving an erroneous impression of the album, as nothing else in it is this bouncy and carefree -- rather, the opposite is true. By the time the record is over, the clutch of unremarkable songs in English on its second half reinforce the impression that the glass is half empty rather than half full. A textbook example of a transition album, Ricreazione is probably a necessary rite of passage in the career of the talented Ayane.

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