Released on May 27, 2022 (Despotz Records)
I have to give a big “thank you” to Ginger Likes… frontman Ypke Dijkstra who recommended that I check out Donna Cannone and their debut self-titled album. I knew that Dijkstra likely had good taste in music given that his band’s debut album Style Over Substance was filled with straight up rocking songs. The fact that there were two former Thundermother members — rhythm guitarist Giorgia Carteri and drummer Tilda Nilke Nordlund — in Donna Cannone also caught my interest. To be honest, I was curious to see what Carteri could come up with on her own away from the shadow of Thundermother founder and lead guitarist Filippa Nässil. From what I understood, Nässil had written most of the Thundermother songs before the band imploded in March 2017 leaving her as the lone woman / band member standing. Of course, Nässil rebounded quite nicely recruiting some new bandmates and Thundermother went on to release three stellar albums since that time consisting of Thundermother (2018), Heat Wave (2020) and Black And Gold (2022).
What could Carteri come up with on her own, or in this instance, with some capable and talented bandmates? I had never heard of lead vocalist / bassist Luca D’Andria but there is no question that the man has a lot of talent, a powerful voice and you can feel his presence on the album. Tilda Nlike Nordlund was no stranger given that she handled the drums on Thundermother‘s two first albums Rock ‘N’ Roll Disaster (2014) and Road Fever (2015). I had only heard of the band Soilwork when their frontman Björn Strid made a guest vocal appearance on Liv Sin‘s single “Hope Begins To Fade” a couple of years ago. Given that Strid resurfaced on my radar with Donna Cannone, I did a little research on him via the internet and found out that he’s the actual singer for Soilwork who have released a whopping 12 studio albums since 1996. I readily admit that I am sometimes in my little music bubble when it comes to checking out music genres outside what Sleaze Roxx caters to so to me, it’s not surprising that I have never heard of Soilwork — a melodic death metal band — until they were associated with a Sleaze Roxx friendly band. Interestingly, Strid does not handle the lead vocals in Donna Cannone but rather handles the lead guitar duties and frankly, he does a great job at that.
As I started listening to Donna Cannone‘s debut self-titled album, I couldn’t help but be blown away. Although the songs themselves have a bit of a modern feel to them, they are still catchy and fit into what I picture to be Sleaze Roxx‘s musical scope. I was surprised by how different the songs sound from Thundermother‘s material and kudos go to Carteri and Nordlund for being able to forge a new musical path. “Cross The Line” starts off with a cool guitar riff before a smorgasbord of instruments accompany it. D’Andria‘s vocals are haunting and powerful, and are often bolstered with the female background vocals from Carteri and Nordlund, which brings a welcome contrast not often heard on many albums. Strid‘s guitar solo is a thing of beauty and if every song was as good as the opening track, you would likely have the album of the year for 2022. Frankly, Donna Cannone‘s album starts off really strong but kind of tails off from tracks six to nine. There are some really great songs at the beginning of the album such as the opening track, the harder edged “Look Around You”, the upbeat pop rocker “Nothing To Do”, and the absolutely stupendous slower rocker “Is it True.” That last one should be a bonafide hit single. Having Mia Karlsson of Crucified Barbara fame adding some guest vocals was a tour de force.
D’Andria‘s vocals during tracks seven and eight remind of the ones from Dirtbag Republic‘s frontman Sandy Hazard. There’s nothing wrong with Hazard‘s vocal delivery aside that it seems to be limited to faster paced sleazy punk type rockers. Tracks seven to nine — namely “Lost City’s Long Lost Friend”, “Message To Tomorrow” and “The North” — aren’t bad tracks but had they been left off the album (along with perhaps track six “Pushed”), I would be thinking that Donna Cannone have delivered one of the best albums of the year. “The North” seems to be an attempt to come up with an atmospheric type rocker, which fails more than succeeds. Donna Cannone ends off strong with “Why Am I Here” (maybe they could have added a question mark for that song title…) which has D’Andria delivering some melody filled verses and a catchy chorus along with Carteri and Nordlund.
Overall, Donna Cannone are one of the big surprises of the year for me. It’s not surprising to see that Thundermother‘s previous record label Despotz Records decided to take a chance with them because they have delivered a strong debut album. I like that the songwriting for the songs on Donna Cannone‘s debut album is simply credited to “Donna Cannone” which suggests to me that Carteri and Nordlund are focusing on more of a band approach and mentality than what they previously experienced in Thundermother. Donna Cannone seem to be playing a lot of gigs so I hope that they will keep going for some time and look forward to seeing what they come up with for their sophomore record.
01. Cross The Line
02. Look Around You
03. Nothing To Do
04. Whatever Comes Your Way
05. Is It True
07. Lost City’s Long Lost Friend
08. Message To Tomorrow
09. The North
10. Why Am I Here
Giorgia Carteri – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Tilda Nilke Nordlund – drums, backing vocals
Luca D’Andria – lead vocals, bass
Björn Strid – lead guitar, additional vocals (6, 9)
Mia Karlsson – guest vocals (5)
Rasmus Ehrnborn – keyboards, acoustic guitar
Rachel Hall – violin
Richard Evensong – egg shaker
Produced by Donna Cannone and Simon Johansson
Recorded by Simon Johansson
Engineered by Mike Weed
Studio side kick: Anna la Corgi
Mixed by Chris Laney
Mastered by Dan Swanö
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, December 2022
Donna Cannone‘s “Cross The Line” video:
Donna Cannone‘s “Is It True” video feat. Mia Karlsson:
Donna Cannone‘s “Nothing To Do” video: