Crisalide: La Storia di Valentina Monetta is her first proper studio offering, following the release of her EP, Il Mio Gioco Perferito back in 2011. Valentina first gained major exposure when she entered for her native San Marino with the Siegel penned The Social Network Song (Oh Oh-Uh-Oh Oh) in 2012. It would be grossly unfair to dismiss Valentina as a purveyor of superficial pop; as this album proves, she has far more to offer, both vocally and musically.
Many an eyebrow will probably be arched in surprise when the album opens with Una Giornata Bellissima, seeing Valentina turn on the sass and turn up the attitude, purring her way through, complemented by a voluptuous backing. We get to hear her scat, something she does very well, before she launches into the next track, L'Amore Verrà. Not as light and breezy as it's predecessor, the contrast couldn't be bigger, with an altogether more funky, psychedelic sound, paired with jazz elements. On Diadaba Jazz, vocoder is used extensively on the background vocal as the pace drops and we're almost taken into a pleasant slumber. Hats off to Valentina, as we hear a delicious rap for the first time. Rap can often be hard, but this caresses as it flows by and just sounds so soft. A major surprise.
On Di Mia Proprietà, we're served a hammering piano intro and some decidely raspy, smoky sounding vocals paired with what transforms into a soft reggae lilt that goes down as smoothly as a scotch on the rocks. Think About has a distinct whiff of Amy Winehouse about it, but with a far more polished vocal as Valentina slips from Italian to English and back to Italian as the track gains momentum towards it's climax. The album is complemented by a more than respectable version of the jazz standard My Funny Valentine, up next, complete with swinging jazz solo and jazzclub background chatter proving to be pretty evocative.
Next up is a turn up for the books: her first Eurovision entry transformed, as The Social Network Song (Oh Oh-Uh-Oh Oh) is given a jazz makeover, making it barely recognizable. If only Valentina had given this rendition in Baku, the outcome could have been quite different; Ralph Siegel never sounded so classy as here! The jazz version is swiftly followed by an altogether more familiar sound; a lengthy remix of her original Facebook (Uh Oh Oh) entry. Reviled by some, yet celebrated for it's fun by equally as many, there's no denying the infuriating catchiness of the song.
I'll Follow The Sunshine is one of her previous singles and is a joyous outing as Valentina bursts from out behind the rainclouds to deliver this jaunty little number with a singalong, upbeat chorus as she sings a message of harbouring hope of reconciliation with an old flame. Next up is her entry from this year's Eurovision, yet another of Siegel's works, Crisalide (Vola) which sees her in fantastical vocal form. What starts out as a big, emotive ballad in Italian quicky explodes into a hi NRG tour de force. The album is augmented by no fewer than seven - yes, you read correctly - seven different remixes of the aforementioned track. Many will mutter the word overkill, but there are some truly hypnotic alternative versions presented here giving so much Monetta for your money, most notably the "English dance version" and the far more laid back jazz version with a completely different sound that may catch many off guard.
The full track listing is as follows:
1. Una Giornata Bellissima
2. L'Amore Verrà
3. Diadaba Jazz
4. Di Mia Proprietà
5. Think About
6. My Funny Valentine (Live Jazz Version)
7. The Social Network Song (Oh Oh-Uh-Oh Oh)(Live Jazz Version)
8. Facebook (Uh Oh Oh)(Euroclub Version)
9. I'll Follow the Sunshine
10. Crisalide (Vola)
11. Chrysalis (You'll Be Flying)(English Dance version)
12. Crisalide (Vola)(Jazz version)
13. Chrysalis (You'll Be Flying)(English Radio Pop version)
14. Chrysalis (You'll Be Flying)(English Radio Jazz version)
15. Crisalide (Vola)(Radio Pop version)
16. Chrysalis (You'll Be Flying)
17. Crisalide (Vola)(Dance version)
Valentina is due to complete a hattrick by competing for San Marino yet again at next year's contest in Denmark. It certainly didn't do Raphael Gualazzi any harm when following a jazz recipe upon Italy's return to the contest in 2011. Perhaps Miss Monetta should remain true to herself and follow his example, and perhaps San Marino may finally be rewarded a much longed for place in the final. Jazz is by no means accessible to everyone, but Crisalide : La Storia di Valentina Monetta has much more on offer. Give it a listen - you may suprise yourself!