Somehow in the midst of the non-stop activity that followed the worldwide rise of Il Volo three short years ago, the young Italian pop vocal trio was able to record a follow-up to its immensely successful eponymous debut album that not only lives up to Il Volo's promise but builds upon it.
This time Piero Barone (19), Ignazio Boschetto (18) and Gianluca Ginoble (17) have gone well beyond the classic songs that gave Il Volo its solid foundation. Rather, We Are Love on Interscope Records focuses more on the contemporary, both in fresh interpretations of more recent pop standards and songs that were either written expressly for the group—or are delivered as if they were.
But both albums retain the trio's self-proclaimed governing principle: "Three voices, one soul." This single Il Volo vocal soul was already evident in 2009, when the three teenage Italian singers' flawless rendition of the Neapolitan standard "O Sole Mio" on the popular talent show Ti Lascio Una Canzone dazzled television viewers, and propelled them on a whirlwind of international activities culminating with special guest appearances on Barbra Streisand's SRO tour.
Along the way, Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, and Gianluca Ginoble signed a worldwide recording contract with Universal Music Group and became the first Italian artists to sign with a U.S. label in the U.S. They then recorded their self-titled debut album Il Volo in Los Angeles and Rome, as well as at London's famed Abbey Road Studios.
Released in November, 2010 in Italy—where it was certified platinum—and worldwide in 2011, Il Volo was soon followed by an invitation from none other than Quincy Jones to represent Italy by singing on the charity single "We Are The World: 25 for Haiti"—joining such superstars as Celine Dion, Josh Groban, and most auspiciously, Barbra Streisand. A few days later they performed during the 60th annual Sanremo Music Festival, a prestigious event attended by such luminaries as Queen Rania of Jordan.
In the U.S., Il Volo virtually exploded on the scene following a show-stopping appearance on American Idol: Il Volo came in at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts and was a Top Ten CD on its Classical Crossover Chart throughout 2012. The boys have since appeared on major TV shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Talk, Ellen and Rachel Ray—and made a surprise appearance on the final episode of the HBO Series Entourage.
Meanwhile, their DVD Il Volo Takes Flight--Live From The Detroit Opera House has now been shown on PBS outlets nationally over l,500 times.
So the pressure was on for the threesome to match the success of their debut album—even at a time when Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca couldn't be any busier.
Il Volo, Michele Torpendine, the band's manager, veteran producer Humberto Gatica, whose credits include the likes of Josh Groban and Celine and Oscar nominated singer/composer Tony Renis organized the repertoire and managed the recording of We Are Love, which was recorded in Rome, Prague, London and Los Angeles. Gatica again teamed with Renis in producing the sophomore disc, this time with greater involvement in song selection from the boys.
But they had their work cut out for them, as the first album thoroughly showcased the young singers' astonishing vocal talent and interpretive gifts within a context of both classic and new compositions (including "O Sole Mio," the "E Più Ti Penso" medley of Ennio Morricone film soundtrack songs, Charlie Chaplain's "Smile," and Diane Warren's "La Luna Hizo Esto" and "Painfully Beautiful"--both written specially for Il Volo).
Aside from providing a stunning vocal framework, "We Are Love," by songwriter/producer Mark Portmann (Celine Dion, Josh Groban) and Latin Grammy winner Edgar Cortazar, also allows Il Volo to show off their multilingual prowess, as they sing it in English, Spanish, French and Italian (they also sing in German on the album), with beautiful orchestration from the Czech Symphony.
Signature song or not, "We Are Love" hardly stands alone. Il Volo and Gatica again turned to Diane Warren: The album's lead track "Questo Amore," besides being the perfect vocal opener, is a fresh Italian take on Warren's huge hit for Aerosmith, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," thanks to a production that takes a 180-degree turn from guitar rock ballad toward the classical side of Il Volo. Warren also supplied the exquisitely sensitive English song "I Bring You To My Senses."
Another outstanding—and surprising—cover choice is U2's "Beautiful Day," here given a lush and energetic English ride upon Il Volo's soaring vocals. Splendid, too, is "Splendida," with music by the song and film composer Bill Ross, who is the Barbra Streisand's musical director and arranger and worked on the previous Il Volo album.
The outstanding "Luna Nascosta," on the other hand, is an actual movie theme, from the romantic Mexican film Hidden Moon. It was penned by Argentine Oscar-winning (Il Postino) film composer Luis Bacalov and is so affecting that Gatica watched Hidden Moon's writer/director José Pepe Bojórquez break into tears upon hearing Il Volo's recording.
We Are Love features another film song in "Historia De Un Amor," by Panamanian songwriter Carlos Eleta Almarán. A choice of many international artists including Nana Mouskouri and Cesaria Evora, it appeared in the 1956 Mexican movie of the same name.
But the new album also spotlights a pair of songs embellished by guest artists. "Cosi'" offers the contrasting vocal of its co-writer, International Superstar singer-songwriter Eros Ramazzotti, who also co-produced it with his co-writer Luca Chiaravalli. And in "Il Canto," the great Placido Domingo lends his voice—thanks to the urging of his grandson—an ardent Il Volo fan; the performance, incidentally is dedicated to the late Luciano Pavarotti, who used to sing it and was a major influence on Il Volo.
Both duets have been artistically created and executive produced by Michele Torpedine (Il Volo's manager who discovered Andrea Bocelli and managed him for 17 years and also currently manages Eros Ramazzotti).
We Are Love closes fittingly with a power ballad, "Non Farmi Aspettare" written by Saverio Grandi (Latin Grammy composer winner with Laura Pausini's song)," which also further underscores the album's seamless sequencing between songs of varying energy and emotional levels.
Inevitably, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca fly high, for themselves and their fans. After all, they took their name Il Volo from the Italian for "flight."