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Lush Neo Soul With A Twist Of Latin
Posted by Play.com Reviewer, 02/02/2008 14:46:15
Adriana Evans's 'El Camino' (Spanish for 'The Path')
is a stylish and well presented album. Produced by Jonathon Scott and co-produced by the artist, the musical choices are intelligent and compliment Adriana's Jazz-tinged voice beautifully. Vocally, Adriana can be compared to Amel Larrieux; she has that similar breezy clean tone- her diction is presise and there is plenty of interesting lyrical phrasing and colour.
The album as a whole is most reminiscent of Sabrina Malheiros's 'Equilibrium' although not quite so obviously Latin.
Adriana opens with the breakbeat driven 'Hey Now'; immediately attention grabbing and a strong start. The rich flute and string tapestries enhance Samir Elmehdaoui's funky guitar work that is the backbone to this track especially the tasty Benson-esque octave work towards the end.
'All For Love' is reminiscent of some of the more downtempo Vocal releases of the mid 90s Acid Jazz scene- (perhaps Misty Oldland or Incognito).
'Calling Me' is a strong contender for personal favourite. This is not by any means the best produced track on the Album, BUT.... the bass drop on the first two choruses is addictive; perfect note length and placement- it has me on the replay button for another dose every time!
'Underneath The Stars' employs an effective switch of grooves between light rimshot and fat Old Skool Hip-Hop beats. There are some moments of superb vocal control, although it seems to strain Adriana's range slightly in places.
'Before You' is instantly reminiscent of Pete Rock & CL Smooths' interludes on their LP 'The Main Ingredient' with its clean cut drums and vibraphones. The vocals are superb on this track- and again there is some tasty guitar work towards the close.
'Blue Bird' sounds so much like a cover of a Jazz Standard that I had to double check just to make sure it wasn't! Beautifully penned lyrics, bold melodic lines, and fantastic harmonic structure- this is one of the strongest tracks on the Album. It would have been even better to have a live drummer on this, but that certainly doesn't spoil the song.
'Never Knew' is similarly strong. Adriana seems most in her element on this sort of lazy Soul/Jazz crossover. Again, live drums would have worked a little better than a sampled beat.
'Blue Bird In Bahia' is a laid back samba groove, more authentically Latino than any of the other grooves so far. This has the feel of an Osunlade selection, or Sabrina Malheiros.
'World On Fire' tells the story of the sorrow of a poor mother. The vocal mixdown and sonic placement have that 'liveroom' feel; which makes the song seem a little more intimate, a bit more personal. The muted pick of the guitar, and wah-wah washes give this cut a slight touch of Sade's 'Lovers Rock' LP.
Of all of the songs on the Album, 'Same As I Ever Was' suffers from the live vs programmed drums dilemma. It is a great track, and Adriana sings with plenty of conviction but it could be a REALLY great track if it just had that true feel of an inventive drummer. Nonetheless, Luke Miller's Rhodes playing in the background does add something special to the vibe.
'Undercover' sees a return to the Acid Jazz feel of the mid 90's. I am not convinced with the delicacy of the chorus- (it could have done with some fuller harmonies), or Adriana's French (which is not equal to her Spanish) but it remains a pleasant cut to listen to.
The title track 'El Camino' is actually more of an interlude track to finish off the Album. A nice bossa Nova guitar groove against a backdrop of Storm sounds and the laughter of children, this could have been better placed earlier rather than to finish the album.
Note: This Review was made by Play.com customer: TouchFingers on Rakuten’s Play.com on the date shown.
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