I have to admit, I was actually pleasantly surprised by Chiara Berardelli. She’s not just another folk singer songwriter. Her talent shines through ‘Don’t Be So Lovely’ through not only her piano and guitar playing but also her breathless vocals. Though her style may seem old-fashioned to seem, others may take her music to be a breath of fresh air in an era of over-produced junk.
The album opens with ‘Home’, a nice easy listening piano ballad with a soulful twist, while follow-up track, ‘Crush’ is similar yet a little more upbeat with soft jazzy percussion. With title track, ‘Don’t Be So Lovely’, we can begin to make similarities with piano singer songwriters such as Missy Higgins. Berardelli’s voice is different, unusual yet natural. It’s free from overdubbing and effects which allows her vocals to sound truly heartfelt.
In ‘Dreaming Up America’, Berardelli shows off her piano skills with a neat little melody as breathy backing vocals and guitar arpeggios help to create the song’s dreamy atmosphere. The song then changes direction half way through, becoming more dramatic. The album continues in the same style of piano ballads with ‘Tough Skin’. The song is given much depth with a cello bass line as Berardelli’s vocals shine through.
Berardelli then reveals her deep subtle Celtic influence in ‘Fireworks’, shown through how the strings and percussion mix. You wouldn’t expect a trumpet to fit in but somehow it does, complimenting Berardelli’s vocals with soft counter melodies. ‘Pretty Ribbon’ is an interesting break from the piano ballads, offering a jangly guitar intro, setting a very serious mood, rather intense in comparison with the rest of the album which is quite laidback.
The record then continues with another piano ballad, ‘Hot Air Balloon’, with choir effects building towards the end to add some much needed depth to the track while ‘The Shore’ continues in the same fashion, a sweet heartfelt piano ballad, but this time with a more country folk feel. Closer ‘Jigsaw’ is a soft acoustic folk track, given a Celtic feel again by the strings, although the electric bass is a little overpowering at times.
At the very least, ‘Don’t Be So Lovely’ would make great easy listening background music or help you through long tiring train journeys. Although it may not be to everyone’s taste, nothing ever really is. We know that there is a wide audience out there for Berardelli’s style of music, all she needs is her big break.