Giulia Millanta,
Dust & Desire
(Ugly Cat Music, 2014)

Giulia Millanta's third album, Dust & Desire, comprises a varied mix of different folk genres. She switches easily between light folk-pop and world music, as well as moody singer-songwriter pieces. The centerpiece of each song (and what ties the album together) is Millanta's passionate singing. Though very capable of a low, sultry voice for more subdued songs, more often than not Millanta lets it all out -- raw and passionate. Unlike so many produced pop singers, you feel like you know her when she sings.

The album starts off with bright and sunny ukulele strumming and harmonies in "Don't Make a Fool of Me." But the masterpiece of the album comes next with "Outta Here." Featuring some nice guitar and violin playing, Millanta's emotional plea for escape is heart-wrenching.

Some other highlights include a really cool cover of "A Taste of Honey," which sounds unlike any version of the song you've heard before. I especially liked hearing Millanta sing in her native Italian -- I would have loved more songs like "Mi Chiamava Lulu."

The album is not a perfect one; a couple of songs didn't do it for me at all. "Dust & Desire" is a great album title, but in the end, the title track did not in fact evoke much desire. The dreary (OK, dark and moody), repetitive closing track "Little Girl" was also not one of my favorites -- far better to end the album on the traditional Mexican "La Llorona," which is fun and fiery.

The album feels a bit short -- only eight songs long, some of which are only a couple of minutes long. But maybe it's good to leave the listener wanting more; hit the replay button because the songs definitely grow on you the more you listen.

music review by
Patrick Derksen

21 June 2014

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