In 2004, Nardi’s mother Rosetta was diagnosed with cancer, and her loving daughter devoted herself full-time to her mother’s care. “I just stopped working on music,” she recalls. “Nothing else mattered.” As her mother defied the odds by beating the cancer into temporary remission, Daniela was gradually able to return to her creative self. “Emotionally, it has been very tough.
I had the intensity of a life and death situation to deal with and it shook me to my core. Some artists thrive in that kind of emotional stress but I need to process it. I was blocked but it was almost as if my subconscious took over, and things just came out. Now, I read what is written and I’m like ‘where did that come from?’ Consciously I would not be able to write that.” Once fully committed to working on the new record, Nardi remained careful not to rush the process.
A self-confessed perfectionist, she makes no apologies for her painstaking approach. “To me, a song is like a lump of clay. I have to keep massaging it until something finally takes shape,” she explains. ”Perhaps it’s my Italian heritage that when I embark on a project, I will work on it until it has been finely shaped.
Like a fine Barolo or delicate espresso, nothing leaves our hands half done.” For The Rose Tattoo, Daniela was looking to work with someone to help realize her vision of acoustic nu-jazz blended with electronic music. That key collaborator is noted Toronto producer Greg Kavanagh (BKS, Jennifer Warnes, Chrissie Hynde). Daniela’s production of her debut was impressive, but, as she notes, “I knew my second record had to up the ante. There was a certain finesse, a certain polish, that I felt I couldn’t achieve on my own.
I wanted another set of ears to help me add that, and it has been a match made in heaven with Greg. He’s so passionate and understanding and we’re on the same musical wavelength.” Together they have brought about an evolution and transformation in Daniela’s sophisticated sound, while preserving the essence of her earlier sound. Working in Kavanagh’s studio Kavasound, Daniela refused to let herself be confined by genre boundaries in framing her songs musically. Daniela's open-minded and adventurous approach is typified by such touches as the sound of Calabrian women singing on the opening of “Rosetta” and the sample of Martin Luther King’s legendary “I have a dream” speech that leads off “The Longest Road,” the epic closing track that also features Arabic chanting. Daniela has drawn comparisons to Sting and Joni Mitchell but the only word for her eclectic sound is “earthymodernjazzpopcool,” while subtly effective touches of electronica also infuse these new songs.
“I’ve always loved electronica and groups like Massive Attack or Moby,” she explains. “Here, I used some of those elements to blend with the acoustic, adding little colours and using the electronica as a modern-day percussion. I wanted to take listeners to a new place with this record yet creating a bridge between the old and the new." While justifiably proud of One True Thing and the impact it had (rave international reviews and extensive smooth jazz radio play in North America), Daniela stresses that “the new songs are much stronger than the first record. I spent a lot of time thinking about melody.
In thinking about this record, I recalled the bands that I used to listen to and what inspired me to write. I listened to a lot of pop music then, bands like The Police, The Eurythmics. Their songs and melodies were just so well-crafted and well-produced, such integrity to the work. I wanted to accomplish the same thing with this new record.
It was the same with the words. I tried to be more specific, more concise. Keep them simple, but with a depth to them.’ Mission accomplished here. The marriage of strong melodies and concise yet convincing lyrics is a happy one.
Nardi acknowledges that the record’s stylistic diversity “may be a surprise to those who like the first record. I’m exploring myself emotionally and vocally. I was forced to go deeper, and find my cutting emotional edge. The album shows how my life has been transformed in the past three years, and the intense feelings I experienced." The focus on the album is always kept on the key instrument, Daniela’s strong, pure and haunting vocals.
These are equally at home on tender ballads (“Grace,” “Rosetta,” the gorgeous “Cry”) and the bluesy gem “Fugitive Kind,” whose swampy vibe befits the Southern setting. There’s a compelling story behind the choice of album title, as Daniela recalls. “It was inspired from the time my mom was in hospital. I remember one specific day there with her, and I was thinking of possible titles.
I was thinking of the mark she has left on my heart, the Rose mark, but that’s not very poetic. That’s when the movie title came to mind.” The Rose Tattoo, a drama based on a Tennessee Williams play, scored a handful of Academy Awards in 1956, and their shared emotional power makes the album and movie fitting namesakes. On The Rose Tattoo, Nardi calls upon the services of an A list of local players, including drummer Davide DiRenzo, bassists Rich Brown and George Koller, saxophonist Colleen Allen, vocalist/oud player Mel M’Rabet, additional programming by Giampaolo Scatozza, and Kavanagh on guitar. Daniela contributes most of the programming, plus piano and keyboards. Her fluent and technically flawless playing reflects her extensive classical music training.
From age five, she was studying music through the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and her studies culminated in a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from York University. Her specialties there were composition, electronic music and performance in 20th Century Music and Improvisation, and this academic background is a potent part of her artistic arsenal. She has composed for various independent films, and her resume includes experience as an actor and sought-after voice-over artist. Nardi is both an experienced and naturally charming performer who has delighted audiences in leading Toronto clubs (The Montreal Bistro, Lula Lounge) and at festivals in both Canada (Rimouski Jazz Festival, Distillery Jazz) and abroad (in front of 100,000 people at a festival in Indonesia, in tandem with her jazz piano virtuoso husband Ron Davis).The audience for this dazzling artist is now poised to grow exponentially, given that she now has major-league American management Jack Forchette and Air Tight Management) behind her. The Rose Tattoo is a journey of passion, finesse, intensity, and artistry, an album that will etch itself upon both head and heart.
It’s Daniela Nardi 2008: as great as before, better than ever, with so much more to come. On May 14th, 2008, two days after Mother's day and two days before Daniela's birthday, Rosie "Rosetta" Nardi passed away quietly from her four year long battle with cancer. Rosie was able to witness the completion of daughter's album. The album is dedicated to her and all cancer warriors. For more information, contact ARTIST WEBSITE: www.danielanardi.com Discography The Rose Tattoo One True Thing Spadina Sessions Singles: You So Beautiful - third most added on American Smooth Jazz Charts Mr. God - charted on Adult Contemporary & Jazz Charts Hands - featured on US TV series "Wild Card" Read more on Last.fm.
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