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Andrea BocelliCredit: Universal
Credit: Universal

For the first time in 14 years, Andrea Bocelli is releasing an album of new material, Si, a collection of 16 new songs, including duets with Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Josh Groban, and more.

Bocelli has released numerous albums over the last 14 years, including a Christmas collection and a record of famous songs from film scores and soundtracks, but this is his first record of entirely new material in over a decade.

There’s no mysterious reason for the break — he says it’s simply because he says it took him that long to find enough songs he wanted to record. “The notes are only seven, and the songs are millions and millions,” he tells EW via a translator. “It’s very difficult to find beautiful songs and to hope they can be worthwhile for people to listen to. We have many, many composers in the world, but few of them are really inspired.”

He further explains that he and his team have been looking for songs all this time, setting aside tunes they liked as they found them to ultimately arrive at Si.

Part of the album’s delight is its impressive array of duet partners, including Ed Sheeran, who previously recruited Bocelli to sing on “Perfect Symphony,” a re-worked version of Sheeran’s hit song “Perfect.” Bocelli even joined Sheeran onstage during his Wembley tour shows to duet live with the pop star. That relationship has now extended to “Amo Soltanto Te,” a song Sheeran wrote for Si (with lyrics by Tiziano Ferro).

Bocelli explains that their working relationship stems from a “mutual sense of respect for each other artistically and as people.” When Sheeran first played “Amo Soltanto Te” for him, he says he was struck by how even though its classical format is different from Sheeran’s typical sound, “it is exquisitely an Ed Sheeran song.” Bocelli elaborates: “It perfectly embodied his style and his inspiration. It’s very hard to describe what struck me as Ed Sheeran’s style because a style is the expression of a cryptic system. It’s recognizing something that is very hard to describe, like a voice or a color. How can you describe that?”

Whether Sheeran will return the favor and join Bocelli onstage during his tour remains to be seen. “We haven’t really set out any specific plans for this, but never say never,” Bocelli says. “I know that he’s extremely busy at this time.”

Andrea BocelliCredit: Universal
Credit: Universal

Though Sheeran’s collaboration with Bocelli and another duet on the album with Dua Lipa are perhaps more unexpected, Bocelli also reunites with a long-time friend in the industry, Josh Groban. Bocelli also recently duetted on a track on Groban’s September release Bridges, and here, Groban returns the favor. Though Bocelli is quick to say: “There is no formal exchange of favors or contract between Josh and myself. He was one of my fans when I was first starting out before he was famous himself, so what we have together is an authentic friendship.”

He explains that the duets on both of their albums came from their mutual admiration and the chance to record two beautiful songs. “He has an incredible voice and he’s also an exquisite person so it was a great pleasure for me to sing with him,” says Bocelli. “When two artists come together, there has to be a good reason for it. The good reason was that it was a beautiful song, otherwise we could just go out to dinner together.”

Still, despite all these buzzy duet partners, the heart of the album is family — Bocelli duets with his son Matteo, his other son Andrea performs piano on an acoustic track, and a song called “Vivo” is dedicated to Bocelli’s wife Veronica. Bocelli tells EW that family is the “most important reference point in his life,” which is why he wanted to celebrate that on his album. An album he clarifies is about love in all its forms.

Bocelli’s 20-year-old son Matteo makes quite the impression on “Fall On Me,” a song that so wowed Disney, the studio asked to use it in the closing credits of the forthcoming Nutcracker and the Four Realms. But Matteo’s interest in singing as a career came as somewhat of a surprise to his father. “I didn’t know Matteo wanted to become a singer. I discovered it fairly recently because his mother told me,” explains Bocelli. “We sang together because we absolutely loved this song — we find it extremely beautiful. It’s a great song — modern and extremely inspiring.”

With so many songs (and duet partners) to choose from, is there one on the album Bocelli is proudest of? The singer demurs, insisting he can’t possibly pick. “My songs are like my children, they all make me happy the same way.”

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