“In the Summertime”, by Mungo Jerry. “Rockaway Beach”, by the Ramones. “Summertime”, by Will Smith. And, most recently, Lorde’s “Solar Power.” Songs about summer are typically celebrations of the season—blithe, carefree, and inundated with an almost ostentatious cheerfulness.
But “Italian Summer,” by Canadian artist Andrea Ramolo, is not a typical summer song.
Perhaps this is to be expected from an artist who, by her own admission, “creates music out of chaos and often misery.” Ramolo’s newest release foregoes the standard braggadocious take on the summer season, instead opting for a deeper, darker, more reflective tone. She’s not on the beach, but she wishes she was. She’s not singing about what she has, but what she wants.
And what she wants is respite. In her mind, the beach isn’t a place of gaiety or celebration. It’s simply an escape. “It’s been quite a year,” she sings, “And it’s not over yet. / Cold and lonely kind of hell.”
It’s not difficult to infer the kind of hell she’s referring to. The Covid-19 pandemic robbed 2020 of its summer, and it’s come close to robbing 2021 as well. Little wonder that an “Italian Summer” feels like a dream, an unattainable desire. And just as the virus spreads through bodies and communities, it also metastasizes through all facets of culture—including music. Ramolo’s newest release is an elegy to a lost summer, born of hope but burdened by memory.
Yet “Italian Summer” doesn’t languish in dread. The typical optimism of the classic summer anthem remains there, hidden in the chorus and in the gentle keyboard rhythms that march the song to its conclusion. When Ramolo sings, “Do you want to meet me there”, her pitch rises aspirationally—an almost pubescent plea for pleasure and peace. And her final lines—“That sweet sun-kissed beauty make me feel alive / I want to feel alive again”—seem like conscious rejoinders to the pandemic zeitgeist. Death and fear abound today—but tomorrow the sun will rise again, and the beach will still be there, waiting for us.
Review by Alex Figueiredo