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December 2002

Marilena Paradisi
I'll Never Be the Same
Philology

If you're ever stuck for something to do on an evening in Roma, cross your fingers and hope that Marilena Paradisi is in town. Meanwhile, you'll have to content yourself with Paradisi's charming I'll Never Be the Same (Philology), her first album sung entirely in English. Though the title track is, oddly enough, not included among the album's 11 selections, there's plenty here to charm even the most jaded continental mind. Her voice is akin to iced cappuccino, filtering Helen Merrill's minimalist purr through the richly accented sensuality of Sophia Loren. She sings, a la Claudine Longet, with a slight lisp, offsetting her openhearted robustness with a girlish insouciance. The most magical thing about Paradisi is that you believe everything she sings, sensing she's been there, done that and has both the scars and sweet romantic memories to prove it. Her gently ebullient "Too Late Now" is, for instance, filled more with cherished recollection than bitter regret, while her tenderly philosophic "Detour Ahead" winkingly suggests, "Why takes chances when we can just stay here in bed?" Strayhorn's deceptively simple "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," tricky for any singer, unfolds with a dewy delicacy that tenderly embraces the ephemeral lyric. Conversely, "It's All Right With Me" undulates with self-confident sass. Capturing the sinfulness that so many others miss, Paradisi understands that it's all about the heightened sweetness of clandestine pleasure. More important, she appreciates, both here and throughout the album, that there's no need for trepidation because she's the one calling the shots.

Originally published in December 2002
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