Sarò Libera

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Previously one third of Popstars' R&B girl band Lucky Star, 27-year-old Emma Marrone has since reinvented herself as Italy's premier gravelly voiced rock balladeer following her second talent show victory on Amici di Maria De Fillippi. Produced by Dado Parisini and Celso Valli (Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti), the chart-topping follow-up to A Me Piace Cosi suggests there's unlikely to be a second change in direction in the cards. The authentic retro-soul of "Scusa Se Vado Via," the rousing blues of "Maledetto Quel Qiorno," and the revenge-fueled Italian rock of "Cercavo Amore" briefly deviate from her successful formula. But it's the epic power ballads, most of which seem tailor-made for belting out in front of a wind machine and a fountain of pyrotechnics, that define the record, whether it's the impassioned, Eurovision-style bombastics of opener "Tra Passione e Lacrime," the '80s synth-tinged "Un Attimo," or the orchestral dramatics of the title track. The atmospheric chiming and gentle strings that accompany the "independent women" themes of "Non Sono Solo Te" and the emotive "Acqua e Ghiaccio," an appropriately delicate piano-led number that deals with the subject of anorexia, show that she's capable of subtlety. But Marrone always seems more at ease when she's able to really let loose, and while Saro Libera's constant theatrics can be a little exhausting, there's no one in her homeland who does it better at the moment.

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