sun 19/11/2017

CD: Mélanie De Biasio - Lillies | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mélanie De Biasio - Lillies

CD: Mélanie De Biasio - Lillies

While never moping, the European singer's latest is lathered in downtempo temperament

Saturnine and scribbled

Mélanie De Biasio is a Belgian jazz singer, an album-charting artist in her home country, and rising star elsewhere. She is not a woman who takes the straightforward path. No album of Nat King Cole covers for her. No Jamie Cullum guest appearances on her third album, Lillies. Instead, she offers up her own moody take on alt-pop which, if she feels like it, as on the smoky slow late night piano title track, might sit within an immediately recognizable jazz idiom, but is equally liable to be something pulsing, electronic and very quietly groove-ridden, as on the single “Gold Junkies”.

De Biasio has said she composed the album by locking herself away, no flash studio, just her, some software and a mic. “I wanted to go back to the seed of creativity, the simplest materials,” is how she put it. Lillies is, consequently, often pared back. “Sitting in the Stairwell”, for instance, acapella, with just finger-click percussion, recalls the ethno-musical folk recordings of Alan Lomax across the southern US states, a blues worthy of Vera Hall, although De Biasio’s voice is gentler and more musically nuanced.

There’s not much you can dance to, unless we’re talking slow ballroom in a dusty bar in a David Lynch film, but occasionally De Biasio sets an electronic pulse tickering along. “Afro American” fits this bill, offering up a midnight electronic head-nodder, with a catchy tune and, tinted with flute, De Biasio’s original instrument. Lillies also has something of post-punk’s aesthetic about it. The closing “An My Heart Goes On”, wherein De Biasio whispers against a scratchy backdrop, is stark, sonically bleak, a bit New York no wave, but eventually builds via a rising bassline into something more red-blooded.

Mélanie De Biasio's latest work does not put her in easily definable territory, occupying jazz’s shadowed underbelly, but its gloominess is never morose, and what eventually shines through is warm and very human.

Overleaf: Watch the video for Mélanie De Biasio's "Your Freedom is the End of Me"

There’s not much you can dance to, unless we’re talking slow ballroom in a dusty bar in a David Lynch film

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters