Sanremo 2023, Ultimo: “To return, I challenged many ‘who makes you do it’…”

The singer-songwriter who fills stadiums is back in the competition at the festival with ‘Alba’, the song that gives the title to his new album: “I’m going to the Ariston to close a circle but I don’t have an open account with the kermesse”.

Last returns to the race a San Remo with ‘Alba’ “to close a circle”, opened with the victory among the Youth in 2018 with ‘The dance of uncertainties‘ and continued with the second place among the Big in 2019 with ‘Your details‘. A choice that he himself defines as “courageous” and in the face of which, he admits, many have told him: “who makes you do this? You don’t need it, you don’t need it, fill the stadiums already“. But, as he already explained on social media when announcing his participation in the festival, Ultimo reiterates: “I can’t say: I go to stadiums and therefore I don’t go to Sanremo. I’m 26 and I put myself on the line. I’m going to Sanremo to close the circle, not because I have an open account, not because if I don’t win it’s not good but because I felt that ‘Alba’ was the right piece to continue a path“, he adds, while revealing that the song that intrigues him the most among those of the colleagues he will find at the Ariston “is that of Gianluca Grignani”.

“The process that brought me back to Sanremo was long. But I wanted to present ‘Alba’ there, a song that draws a connection with the most hidden part of me. That part that we all have, but which, unfortunately, we tend to lose of sight. It is a letter for anyone who wants to look inside and try to start over, overcoming those mental limits that don’t allow you to evolve”, says the singer-songwriter who signs the lyrics and music and who also chose it as the opening track of the homonymous new album that will be released on Friday 17 February, the week after Sanremo. “An album that is not a concept album but where each song is a world unto itself. It’s not a record where all the songs have the same vibe as ‘Alba’ but it’s a record that has songs that are the rip on Alba’s dress. Let’s say that most of the songs on this album were generated by a stream of consciousness”, he explains as he hints at some songs on the grand piano in his house on the outskirts of the capital, “where – he says – I spend 26 hours a day making music or thinking about music”, surrounded by his two dogs, little Toffee (“in homage to Vasco’s song that I adore”) and Pisolo the puppy, and by his lifelong friends, since going out to the capital for him is practically impossible, so much he is hunted by fans.

‘Alba’ was born around a phrase that Ultimo had had in mind for some time: ‘I only had this phrase.’I love the sunrise because it’s like it’s mine alone‘. But the rest of the song is as if she had come looking for me one summer morning in the Aeolian Islands. The song came out by itself, as if I were just the go-between”, he says. “It’s a reflection on a rebirth but it is certainly influenced by the current world, even if I never make direct references to current events in my songs”.

To those who ask him how he looks today at the controversy with the 2019 Sanremo closed, annoyed at that second place obtained also due to an unfavorable vote in the press room, Ultimo replies: “I’m not one to ruminate on the past. I’m not sorry and I’m not even proud of it. I’ve always done what I felt like doing“. And even in the face of the first ‘report cards’ of the critics on the Sanremo songs, he reiterates: “It is right that everyone writes what they want but I still go on my way”. A road studded with 55 platinum records and 18 gold records ‘gold.

Of his career, which in 7 years from the first official single in 2016 has led him to fill stadiums, even with double and triple dates in the same cities (at the Olimpico in Rome for 2023 he already has two sold outs and a third date filled halfway through, ed.), says: “Seven years today is a long time. So it wasn’t obvious to arrive with this type of response. I’m proud. But I’m also aware of all that there is still to be done. I really have the feeling that I have to continue writing my story and I want to do it with enthusiasm but also with that healthy ingenuity that allows you to throw yourself into unknown things”, he confesses.

As for the album ‘Alba’, he adds: “I like being on the fifth disc of pieces all written by me, it makes me proud, it gives me security”. Thus, in the tracklist of ‘Alba’ – produced by his label Ultimo Records and written between Rome, London and Los Angeles – after the title track there are ‘Nuvole in testa’ (“song-release written during a move that contains the generational claim ‘you don’t know what I have inside'”), ‘Amare’ (“love song par excellence that I consider a bit like the twin of ‘The most fragile star in the universe’), ‘Everything becomes normal’ (” the other side of ‘Amare’ with love and everything else dealing with time and habit and boredom”), ‘You’ (“a candlelight dinner, in New York”, probably with his fiancée), ‘I live to live’ (“here is a sentence that fully represents me: ‘stay with me, while I walk alone’…”), ‘Do you want to feel good’ (“the simplest and most beautiful question in the world”), the two “football songs” ‘Come in my heart’ and ‘Sono crazy about you’ (“the only true uptempos on the record”), ‘Joker’ (Ultimo loved so much the film with Joaquin Phoenix who “felt the need I don’t want to take his side: he’s an ‘ultimate’, there’s certainly a predisposition for error in him, but it was the world that made him become evil”), ‘London Rain’ (written clearly in the capital English, where he spent a month and a half while working on this album), ‘Tornare a te’ (“the photograph of melancholy, an impressionist piece”), ‘Le usuale paure’ (“another ‘twin’ song of one of the past, this time of ‘Dreams hanging’). In this song, explains Ultimo, there is a phrase that is a bit the manifesto of his music: “I know well, I too should have a life, but I have chosen to use mine to create a collective one”. ” Collective life – adds the artist speaking of the album – is the one I live with those who follow my music and come to my concerts. When they tell me ‘your music helped me, it saved me’, it’s the best thing that can happen”.

The disc closes with ‘End credits’ (“It’s not the end, but it’s living the end, when you realize that things don’t go as you thought”). But the live adventure is about to start again. The Ultimo Stadi 2023 tour “La Favola Continua…” (“I would like this format to last many more years”), produced by Vivo Concerti and for which over 250,000 tickets have already been sold, will start from the Teghil Stadium in Lignano Sabbiadoro on the 1st July (date zero), will continue at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 7 (sold out), 8 (sold out) and 10 and will end at the San Siro stadium in Milan on 17 and 18 July. First, however, Ultimo stops in Sanremo, on Rai1, from 7 to 11 February. And it’s a safe bet that he’ll come back to fight for victory.