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Elena - Glimpse

  by Paul Raven

published: 22 / 9 / 2007



Elena - Glimpse
Label: Delicious Records
Format: CD

intro

Flawed debut album from husky-voiced London-based singer-songwriter Elena whose powerful vocals are let down by their musical backing


The female singer-songwriter is one of the tricky perennials of the music business; easy to plant, but difficult to nurture into fruitful maturity. London-based Elena shows early promise of flowering, with the distinctive colour of her voice hinting at glorious blooms to come – but the soil she's planted in could do with some invigorating fertilisation. The voice is important, of course – with the front-woman as the focus of both the music and the marketing, it has to be. Elena's husky and almost-broken vocals, recorded close to the mic for extra intimacy and emotional impact, have the magic combination of being distinctive and unique while simultaneously reminding you of a number of other solo singers from the past handful of decades. Continuity is important for acts that focus on the voice; they need to place themselves at the end of a seemingly unbroken chain of tradition, a succession of singers evoking powerful narrative in a manner at once accustomed and fresh. So Elena's voice is a powerful weapon; she nods to history, but looks to the future, and her European-tinged accent adds a frisson of the truly original. But the voice, while important, is not the whole story. The songs are the other side of the equation, and the equation must balance. The songs on 'Glimpse' are the weaker fist of the two, at least as far as the music is concerned. The lyrics are fine enough, though on their own not particularly memorable – some of the hooks stick in your mind as they pass, but that's more due to their delivery than their content. But the music itself, while beautifully put together, just doesn't add up to an appropriate backing for Elena's voice. Taking its cue from the simple and bland stylings of Coldplay and other less successful limpid indie dad-rock outfits, it's all simple four chord progressions on mildly distorted guitar or piano, with some incidental synth bits thrown in for embellishment here and there. It's not that the tunes are inherently bad, or that the style is inappropriate; it's more that the band sound like a cheap karaoke-disc cover of themselves. There's no fizz, no passion – none of the dynamism that the material deserves. Think of all the great singer-songwriters you've ever been into. I'd be willing to bet that, except the ones that started out as a solo act, they all started off with a strong and unique band playing with them; a band that played to the strength of their voice, leaving space for it to shine while bolstering the weak spots. There's no denying Elena's voice is a fantastic instrument in its own right, capable of drawing strong musical lines and forms ... but only the very best paintings look as good propped against a back-room wall as they do framed properly and hung in a well-lit museum.



Track Listing:-
1 Lights Of Tokyo
2 Butterflies
3 I Want You
4 Satellite86
5 Here Comes The Rain
6 Last Night On Earth
7 In Your Face
8 You&Me
9 Sleepless Underground
10 Breathe
11 Coffee Song
12 Where I Want To Be



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