“Voices and sounds from Southern Italy” runs the subtitle of the debut album, from MASSIMO FERRANTE, an artist who, after a tough apprenticeship, has begun to win widespread popular and critical acclaim. The fruit of an assiduous quest for a sound striking a perfect balance between ancient and modern, U Ciucciu effortlessly spans the folk traditions of Sicily, Calabria and Campania stopping off in Abruzzo and even Greece along the way (by way of Salento's Greek immigrant culture on the song Klama). There's also room for an impassioned homage to the greats of Southern Italian folk music, especially Rosa Balistreri (on the celebrated "Mi votu e mi rivotu" and "Ch’è autu lu suli") and Otello Profazio (on "Mannaja all’ingegneri", "Amuri amuri", "U Ciucciu"), while of equal interest are FERRANTE's reworkings of a number of tunes salvaged from obscurity, eschewing fidelity to traditional forms in favour of a more creative revisitation. FERRANTE puts body and soul into his overhauls of everything from nursery rhymes and tammurriate to gangster tarantellas, fragments of 16th century erotic verse and work songs that evoke the hard life of peasant farmers. Not forgetting his occasional forays into politically and socially engaged song such as the CDs closing track, "Portella della Ginestra" with Ignazio Buttitta's magnificent lyrics (set to music by Otello Profazio) continuing to sound a powerful admonition not to forget one of the darkest and most tragic episodes in recent Italian history. It's a highly accomplished debut album on which FERRANTE as well as singing also plays twelve string and Catanian guitar and is accompanied by musicians the calibre of Enrico Del Gaudio, Francesco Migliaccio, Auli Kokko, Daniele Sepe, Francesco Banchini, Nando Gandolfi and Massimo Cecchetti. After U Ciucciu MASSIMO FERRANTE will no longer simply be known as "Daniele Sepe's singer".