Rain is available at:
The album Music is available from:
Secret Lover– 9.4
Lonely Girl– 9.4
Unconditional Love– 9.3
Stay Awhile– 9.3
Now I Know– 9.2
Treat Me Like a Woman– 9.4
Happy Love Song– 9.3
I Can Feel It (Bonus Track)– 9.2
STAND OUT TRACK:
Secret Lover, Rain, Lonely Girl, Stay Awhile, Treat Me Like a Woman
Oct 31, 2013
℗ 2013 Music Talks
Jazz, Acoustic, World
Heartbreaking Acoustic/Jazz heroine Ellene Masri draws influences from World music- as well as Jazz and Acoustic greats- to create something spellbinding, tender and deeply personal. Her album Music was released last year (and is still garnering plaudits): I investigate its stunning sophomore cut
SLEEP has been alluding me lately…
I shall not go into too much detail: suffice it to say, life is a lot less pleasant than I would like. Music provides a necessary distraction and tonic- not just from fatigue and exhaustion, but from the negatives of life in general- to allow the mind to recharge and re-engage. In the course of my reviewing, I find that I can categorise my subjects- by place and genre- and see a trend forming: Yorkshire seems to come under my radar once every couple of weeks; the U.S. and Canada has featured a lot- in terms of genre; Rock, Indie and Grunge are featuring quite prolifically (and will be in the coming week). Ellene Masri has provided me the opportunity to concentrate on a style of music I do not get to hear often: as well as offering incredible Jazz movements, Masri incorporates Folk, Acoustic, World music and Contemporary elements- the resultant sounds are among the most emotive, personal and stunning around. I have not often dipped my toes into the water of Jazz- having reviewed the likes of ISSIMO, aspects of the genres come through in their music- for a particular reason: the lack of diversity and excitement. It would be unrealistic for me to expect Jazz-Indie fusions and scintillating cross-pollination: Jazz provides plenty of inspiration and wonder, yet a lot of modern artists have lost their edge- negated the importance of connecting with the listener on a base foundation. Masri’s stunning and mesmerizing beauty is reflected in her music: she has experienced a lot of heartache and change; choosing to filter it into her music, it not only acts as a form of release- it is designed to hit the listener and seduce them completely. Many artists write personal and emotive songs that are not that inclusive- the songs can often seem hard to extrapolate and decipher- when you do come across an act that draws you in, they should be heralded: Masri’s current album is filled with rich and gorgeous tracks that we can relate to and appreciate. Before I conclude my assessment of our alluring star, let me shed a bit more light:
“Ellene Masri, songwriter and performer, has just released her debut self-produced album, “MUSIC”, a mixture of various cultural influences inspired by her mixed roots, her travels around the world and her many musical encounters under her own label “Music talk”, November 1st. She has already been previewed in the UK on Jazz FM to rave reviews, discovered by radio host Chris Philips (The Jazz Breakfast) to rave reviews, garnering both single and album of the week. She has worked extensively throughout Europe & America with many major label recording artists, compiling several gold & platinum discs. Ellene Masri has performed at various festivals and venues in Paris and across Europe accompanied by her guitar and some excellent musicians (like Etienne Mbappé on bass whose unique style and musical genius contributed to give Ellene’s album its depth and singular color). Her compositions, personal universe and moving voice have touched the Jazz en Baie’s festival’s audience on August 16th where she appeared, with Sir Gant on piano, as the festival’s favorite. Sir Gant is known for arranging the masterpiece “Sweet Love” performed by Anita Baker and for his collaborations with women such as Randy Crawford, Madonna, Perri and Regina Belle. He is now the musical director on Ellene Masri’s live performances.“
Music was crowned Jazz F.M.‘s ‘album of the week’: a prestige and honour that has meant a lot to the star. It is not hard to see why it gained such acclaim: the French-Lebanese singer-songwriter draws in her itinerant and varied background; infuses aspects of others genres into her work- wrapping it around a beautiful and tender core; one imbued with catchiness and soulfulness. Having recently extolled the virtues of Steely Dan- perhaps I have laboured a bit too much- the reason I was so compelled to proffer them was their intelligence and musicianship: their Jazz-Rock templates; intellectual and phenomenal lyrics were bettered only by their red-hot and mesmerizing compositions. Still considered a niche and underground act- they never gained the respect and wide appreciation they deserved- they remain one of the most divine and genius acts of all-time. Masri does not simply do what Jazz/Acoustic contemporaries do: her intelligence, sense of composition and diversity has shades of the U.S. giants- she employs various illustrious musicians into the mix (like Steely Dan) to ensure her songs are the finest and most invigorating they can be. There are a few female (and male) artists that play similar music: I feel that none manage to instill the same blend of culture, originality and passion into their music. Masri not only allows access to her heart, thoughts and inner-most confessions; she takes you on a tour of the globe: inspired by the sounds of Africa, the U.S., Europe and Brazil, the listener is treated to a cornucopia of sounds and flavours. Masri divides her time- and moves between- the France and other parts of the globe (including London: I shall have to see when she pops over): she draws in Acoustic/Folk sounds of both continents and infuses a heady brew of colours and movements. Few current newcomers take the time to make sure their online portfolio is fully stocked and well-presented: Masri’s official website is well-designed and ensures that all the information and music anyone could want is available. With a complete and well-rounded social media representation- her music is available on various music-sharing sites- it ensures everyone can connect with Ellene Masri- she clearly wants her music to reach as many ears and lands as is possible.
Being an early and fledgling work, it is hard to compare Rain (and Music) with any of Masri’s previous work. Our heroine has recorded a number of cover versions- displaying her interpretive skills and infusing each song with her own voice and personality. When it comes to the original music, it is the display and testament of an eager and authoritative young act: the confidence and naturalness is all there right from the off- there is never a sense that the best days are still ahead (although she will get better and better). Of course, Masri will develop and mature as an artist- from release to release she will get bolder- yet it is strange to discover someone so fully formed and authoritative right off of the block. A great deal of young talent come onto the scene with a vague sense of who they want to be; albums contains the odd below-par number- Masri has taken the effort and consideration to ensure that no cracks and loose edges show- there is not a weak track on Music; due to the natural charm and talent of Masri, each song campaigns hard and elicits a smile in the listener. Having witnessed Masri’s cover versions- that she has recorded lately- it seems that a great deal of passion and soul mandates her direction and voice: everything is projected urgently and with full-bodied conviction.
Masri has a very special and unique voice- making it tricky to compare it with someone else. In her softer and more alluring moments, shades of acts Jennifer Lopez and Leona Lewis comes through- Masri is a lot more assured and mobile than the aforementioned. If U.S. contemporary acts such as Beyoncé and Rihanna spring to mind- when events are more impassioned and belting- then it is only the merest hints that can be detected. Masri has an affection for modern-day U.S. music- you can hear embers of American Pop on a few of Music‘s tracks- as well as that of the U.K. and Europe. There is a terrific modern sound that comes through on the L.P.: the production is solid and well-polished- the songs are given room to breathe and fully come to life. A great deal of current albums are too over-produced and shiny- this is where Masri differs- our heroine makes sure that there are enough raw edges and spaces for her sensual and smoky vocal lines to truly make a mark. Anyone that is a fan of current Pop acts will find a lot to enjoy within Music: Masri only employs Pop elements in a few numbers- not one track has only one dimension to it. I have stated the fact that Jazz, Soul and World elements are incorporates into tracks- the music on offer looks at romantic longing, trust and personal satisfaction. A lot of current Indie/Rock acts- solo and band- explore these subjects: Masri’s music is not niche or restrictive- being a big fan of heavier sounds, I found a wealth of fascinating moments. With so few current artists employing the same wealth of instrumentation and diversity, one struggles to compare Masri with too many other examples. Her music is going to speak loudest to those that want beauty and truth in their sounds: music-lovers that want to discover something truly sweet-natured and angelic. Of course, Masri has a devil on her shoulder: certain numbers see our heroine cutting loose and satisfying her deepest desires- secret love and late-night trysts are examined and beautifully portrayed. There is as much sexiness and tease within Music– as there is softness and tender emotion. Too many genres sees their representatives play too narrow and confined: the music can often deal with single topics and one particular sound. To my ear, Masri will appeal to Acoustic and Folk fans. A lot of modern-day examples of the form have a range and sense of adventure (few others possess): anyone initiated to these wonderful forms is sure to fall in love with Music.
A typically evocative and scenic intro. welcomes in Rain: it is gentle and graceful with plenty of atmosphere and intrigue. The piano notes glide and beautiful roll; the audible sound of rain puts your mind right in the song- yearning and aching strings cascade and flow. Before Masri approaches the microphone, the composition transforms slightly: arming itself with a charming kick, the instruments grow larger and more emotive- the tone seamlessly blends upbeat and sunshine with romantic and introverted. Our heroine’s voice is instantly urgent and impassioned: there is no sense of fear, yet she is compelled and keen to get her message through. Whether speaking to a missed friend- or a lover perhaps- Masri attest that “It’s really good to see your face again“: the soulfulness and delicacy that emanates forth makes you smile and melt into the song- picture what is being described and let the beautiful vocal take effect. Masri finds herself returning home and glad to see that nothing has changed: she is in love again and realises all that she had before. Perhaps an old flame is back in Masri’s acclaim; you can hear the passion and sheer sense of comfort present itself in the early stages: with a crystal-clear and delectable vocal, it is impossible not to be won over by Masri’s charm and seduction. Delirious and overcome, Masri is in love and wants to experience everything she can: an aching heart has been quelled and comforted it seems- whether it is a romance and kinship that continues to this day, I am not sure. By the time we reach the chorus, it seems that reflection and reality is being surveyed: Masri attests that you can never stop the rain and the harsher elements of life; only wish “for a better rain.” Whether an explosive love story has found some limitations or our heroine is open-minded, there is never any caution or reticence in her performance: that bright disposition keeps events positive and inspired- with emotive and augmentative vocals and a tender guitar line, early sentiments are soothing and motivational. As the song progresses to its next stage, our heroine shows some humility and concern. The relationship- as it is made apparent- broke down and dissipated (perhaps forcing Masri from home): the hero was left hurt and scarred; the wounds appear deep and fresh- Masri wonders why he let her treats him this way. It is a rare angle to find in a song- there is genuine regret that comes through; the heroine wants to make things right and eradicate any bad feelings that remain. As the tender percussion starts to hit a little harder- the backing vocals more soulful and insistent- it seems that thoughts and feelings are being kept bottled in: the hero clearly has something to get off of his chest; without doing so there is no chance the relationship can be repaired. Desperate to broker a deal (that means they can be together), Masri keeps her emotions in check: the vocal keeps its back firm and heart sturdy- only occasionally do you sense a slight chink in the spirits. The subject and nature of rain comes through literally as well as metaphorically. The sense of natural storm and emotional turmoil combines splendidly: one gets the impression the rain beats down outside, as the two sweethearts try to find common ground and compromise. Before a fresh conversation is brought into the room, Masri steps away from things: wordless coos and swooping (and soaring) vocals mix with backing vox- it not only provides an audible sense of light and relief, but adds incredible beauty to the song. When our heroine allows her confessional side to come out; she admits that she should not have walked away- perhaps she did not give the relationship time to flourish and grow. Perhaps her beau was not as attentive as he should have been- Masri felt (at first) she could do better. Perhaps the two were in different head spaces: her love has belief (in her) and was keen to nourish and support; maybe having waited too long, the relationship and passion faded and lost its spark. The issues that are deeply ensconced are those which cannot be eradicated: they cannot return to how things were; only hope that the same mistakes are not made again. Before the song reaches its conclusion, evocative and emotive piano notes come back to the fore: reminding me of Kings of Convenience and The Cinematic Orchestra, there is a combined feeling of stirring emotion and hollow longing- a certain coldness seeps through the warmth. The way the vocals- in the background- rush and campaign has a very contemporary feel: U.S. Pop and Latin-Pop makes it impressions. As our duo reach the end of the night, there is nothing really left to say- they need to clear their heads and figure things out. Masri ensures that there are no wasted breaths and notes: the final moments see a gorgeous and spellbound piano coda combine with strings- making you reflect and hope that things will work out okay. As Masri- for the sake of transparency- re-introduces the chorus’ core (“You can never stop the rain“) she remains strong- you feel that she knows things will not work out as she had imagined; this love story is far from over…
Music is an album that offers endless treats and changes for glory: Rain is the song that stood out clearest for me. Other tracks see our heroine more lustful and seductive, yet here there is more tenderness: no blame is being cast (as such); the honest surveyance of an honest love is being assessed- mistakes have been made but it seems that there is no road back. The production through Rain is stunning: too many songs lose their edge due to scrappy and bare-naked production values- Masri does not overdo things; she perfectly mixes vocal and compositional elements. What you get from the song is resounding emotion and conviction: the background is evocative and scene-setting; adding weight and support it never gets in the way of the most striking facet- that proud and noble vocal performance. Masri has cemented a reputation as one of the most beautiful voices around- and not just in her particular milieu- and this is emphasised here. Allowing her gentle and arresting tones to bring the words into clear view, you find yourself cast under her spell- it is understandable why men would fall at her feet. Rain cleverly mixes metaphors and honest emotion. Masri is realistic about how things stand: she cares for her man, yet knows that things are not going to work out perfectly. Too many modern singers- both female and male- either spit venom (when looking at old love) or come off as naive and saccharine: there is a lack of emotional maturity and intelligence. Masri is a strong and impassioned woman who knows her heart and mind: determined not to throw the towel in, Rain may yet see a follow-up and sequel- some questions get left and the listener will want to see how things work out between them. Masri makes sure the track does not get weighted down and overwhelmed with needless instrumentation and force: the supple and graceful notes that are presented back the vocal up as well as add just the right amount of tenderness and beauty. It is incredibly difficult to make a gentle and gorgeous song sound essential and must-hear: Rain is a track that is perfect for lovers that need answers; that car journey in an evening storm; the quiet summer moments where you just need to reflect- as well as for budding songwriters that need fresh impetus and direction. Little of my record collection contains music like Masri’s: if she keeps producing stunning tracks like this, then I will listen to nothing else.
Rain is a stunning number, from a wonderful and striking album. Being self-produced and written (with Masri playing most of the instruments), our heroine takes control and makes sure Music is her own voice coming through: everything is personal and meaningful to her; the subject matter is not limit or restricted at all. It is the sheer range of emotions and intentions that make her debut such a treat. Personal loneliness and sexual desire nestles alongside the need to have fun and dance: maturity and the need to find a better man is presented; scenes of city streets and modern-day life are all put under the microscope- each song is given a huge amount of intrigue, due to Masri’s compelling and gorgeous voice. Not limiting proceedings to a few instruments, our heroine incorporates various strings, brass and World music instruments: it not only keeps proceedings fresh and unpredictable, but gives full-bodied richness and texture to the album- nothing is stilted or suffocated. Secret Lover sees Masri unleash a sexy and breathy vocal: you get the impression she is curled by the fireside, waiting for her man to arrive. The song’s lyrics look at infidelity and her forbidden fruit. Smooth and twirling saxophone injects the song with sexiness and spark: hypnotic and pitter-patter percussion adds an extra layer of weight and evocation- the entire track seduces, sweats and contorts. Masri mixes tender and beautiful soft notes with emphatic and impassioned vocals: containing elements of Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé, you get a sense of soulful power and Pop/Contemporary Latin America mingle and intertwine. Some of Steely Dan’s Aja– period experimentation is evident in the song: the brass and saxophone create their own stories in the background; the composition is deep and filled with life- the notes mix sensual and forceful. Masri is a flower that needs to see the sun- that sense of desire and secrecy makes the track such an impressive opening number. Lonely Girl is softer and sparser (at first). Looking at outside figures (as well as herself), Masri investigates someone who lives “in her own world“: with a sensuous and silky vocal line, the song contains no accusation or aggression- there is a sense of empathy and understanding in the lyrics. When our heroine turns on herself, she looks at her own loneliness: understanding the birds and the bees, she seems not to be able to get what she wants. ’60s and modern-day Soul spars alongside R ‘n’ B and Acoustic: Masri allows her voice to climb and retreat; backed by a stunningly evocative composition, it is another stunning cut. Treat Me Like a Woman infuses Latin and World influences with Dance and Modern Pop: tumbling and tender guitar strings sit beside more empowered and determined cores. Masri does not want to see her man being mothered; our heroine seems to feel that her guy is not as manly as he should be- there seems to be a sense that he is leaning on her too much. Determined to be treated with real love (and enjoy real passion and excitement), the track contains the album’s most direct and essential vocal. Elsewhere, there are upbeat and joyous numbers; the title track contains one of the most impressive melodies (and most delicious vocal turns). Music is an album that you cannot ignore: the songs cannot be given slight appreciation- you need to listen to every song fully and go back again (to reveal its full charms). A lot of modern Jazz and Acoustic acts are relegated to coffee shop background music- there is a sense of disposability to their tunes, that means they are overlooked and lack credibility. Whilst the genres face needless discrimination, there is still too much listless and vague music (coming from them): Masri is someone who you would be foolish to overlook. Music provides silver-tongued promise; sensualised and delirious vocals; sweetness as well as raw passion- all backed by compositions that are full of life and intention.
As we speak, Ellene Masri has been nominated by Love Music Awards as their ‘Best Jazz Artist of the Year’: going up against some strong competition, our heroine has a great shout at scooping the top honour. In addition, magazines, websites and music sites are being seduced by Masri’s music: her album is collecting impassioned feedback and multitudes of praise- listeners and reviews alike are spellbound by its openness, range, passion and style. Having had few opportunities to assess a like-minded album- from my stack of new acts- it has been a huge pleasure investigating Masri and Rain– as well as getting to grips with music. Her songs are not merely designed to float over you and sit in the background: they are intended to get inside of your heart and compel you to feel the emotions coming through. Possessed with as much sunshine and upbeat kick- as there is introspection and sadness- Music does what great new albums should: it shows a clear and unique voice but contains familiar strands; it dares to be that bit different. It is Masri’s knowledge of World music and multiple genres that makes her one of the most inspired acts in music: few of her contemporaries blend the same sounds as she does; none do it better. Masri’s immense beauty and sense of allure comes through in her scintillating songs: not only do you get sucked into our heroine’s special world; you are give the chance to detach yourself from any personal worries- and experience something ameliorating and medicinal. In terms of what the future holds: it is clear that a lot more music will arrive from Masri. Her current album was released eight months ago, so one suspects future plans are on her mind. As well as recording cover versions- from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson- Masri has been ensuring that her name and reputation connects with as many people as possible. Music is a deep and variegated album that took a lot of time and effort to create- I would not want to see her feel compelled to stamp out another L.P. so soon. For the moment, she should be proud of how far she has come; how incredible her music is- and how many people are being inspired by her sounds. Her music is not only that which should accompany you everywhere- on your bedroom stereo; in the car; in a cafe- but witnessed in the live arena: it would be great to see Masri play Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club– see belongs there as much as anything (maybe she will when she comes to London). Our heroine could have a residency there, yet one feels that she wants to give as much back to the world as she has taken: having borrowed sounds from several continents, Masri will want to show the fans (across Europe, North America, Africa and South America) what their nations have given her. In a time where Jazz and Acoustic wonder is a rarefied and under-heard commodity, it is vital that artists such as Ellene Masri are afforded respect and appreciation. Dive into the warm waters of Music; investigate and examine the incredible moments of Rain– and keep on doing so. With a voice as alluring; music so all-encompassing; messages so honest…
WHO would deny her?
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