Thursday, 6 March 2014

Review: Eliane Elias - Around The City

Eliane Elias has managed to maintain an unwavering dedication in her career as a jazz pianist and composer. In an industry where women tend to be packaged and marketed as female first, and then talented second, and where anyone south of Texas gets branded as a ‘Latin musician’ regardless of what actual music they play, Elias has somehow been able to find and broaden her audience simply by following the music.

‘Around The City’ then continues this journey, with a well-blended mix of original compositions (with some help from songwriters Lauren Christy and Lester Mendez) and some covers, including surprisingly Becks ‘Tropicalia’ and brilliantly Bob Marleys ‘Jammin’.

Lead-off track ‘Running’ is a great start to proceedings, with a strong swaying groove that works its way into your subconscious. The afore-mentioned ‘Jammin’ meanwhile is madeover into a high-energy number, which could potentially have tipped into bad karaoke, but in these skilled hands it becomes an awesome, and respectful, tribute.

The classic ‘Oye Como Va’ comes with a sexy vibe courtesy of Elias’ sultry vocals, and the soft and sensual ‘Segredos’ is an album highlight with its defined pulsating rhythm. But it is probably ‘Slideshow’ that is the pure gem of this album. Beautifully sung lyrics meld with the catchy flamenco guitars and handclaps that conjure up the perfect image of the cliffside roads winding their way to some mysterious sun drenched beach.

Everywhere on this album is the smouldering rhythm of Brazil, while still maintaining a strong night-time jazz feel with her superb piano work and warm vocals. The stellar ‘Segredos’ makes a welcome return as a closing reprise, revamped into a more jazz-tinged piece and again, Eliane Elias has delivered her own music on her own terms and the results are as always well worth the listen.


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