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Amore Nel Pomeriggio
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  • After 1992's excellent Canzoni d'Amore, Francesco De Gregori spent the rest of the decade in creative limbo. Amidst rumors of alcoholism and depression, he made only one new album (the lackluster Prendere e Lasciare) that quickly got lost in a plethora of repetitive live releases. The fact that these continued to sell very well probably only worsened De Gregori's fear of having turned into some sort of national monument, with an audience only interested in listening over and over to the same old classics. To critics, he was a relic from the golden days of the cantautori in terminal has-been status. Then seemingly out of nowhere came Amore Nel Pomeriggio, a record so shockingly good that one is tempted to speak not merely of a renaissance, but of a revelation. Everything that made De Gregori one of the most important Italian artists of his generation is present here in spades, and in awe-inspiring form. Musically this is one of his most elegant collections since Titanic, bathed in a lush acoustic feel that gives Amore Nel Pomeriggio its pensive, elegiac grandeur. Lyrically, this is classic De Gregori: a series of ruminations about love, history, philosophy, and Italian society that sounds both intelligent and moving. It is hard to single out highlights for such a consistently brilliant effort; perhaps the disarmingly beautiful "Deriva" among the love songs, and "Il Cuoco di Sal•," certainly the album's centerpiece. Helped by an epic opera-like production courtesy of Franco Battiato, De Gregori once more retells History from the point of view of its minor protagonists, in this case a hotel's chef witnessing the last days of the fascist republic of Sal•. Last but not least, the album includes a tribute to master and friend Fabrizio De Andr‚, who passed away in 1999. De Gregori reprises "Canzone per l'Estate," a song from the album he helped De Andr‚ co-write (1974's masterpiece V. 8), but replaces the irony of the original version with poignant world-weariness. Amazingly for a pop recording artist entering his fourth decade, Amore Nel Pomeriggio may very well prove to be Francesco De Gregori's best album of his entire career. Furthermore, thanks to this album's critical and popular acclaim, a rejuvenated De Gregori entered a furiously productive period, releasing five albums over the following four years, including a collaborative effort with folksinger Giovanna Marini and two outstanding new studio albums, 2005's rock-oriented Pezzi and 2006's beautiful Calypsos. ~ Mariano Prunes
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