[twitter style=”vertical” float=”left”] [fbshare type=”button”] [google_plusone size=”standard” annotation=”none” language=”English (UK)”] There was a time when hot chicks could not only sing and perform, but could write legendary songs and create memorable musical arrangements.
There was Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Alanis Morrisette and Tori Amos, to name but a few of these extraordinary talents.
I said was, because there really was a time, when music mattered. When artists bared their creative souls and denuded their fragile spirits in the name of art…and record sales was almost a by product.
So, even though today, you may still find new releases by these artists. The music business machine has in most cases, drastically changed how their music is produced. Major label artists are trapped into a ‘must sell’ situation that often forsake pure art to achieve the commercial success, required to pay the massive bills they produce.
It’s the dog chasing it’s tail theory.
Tori Amos managed to escape that trap last year with her “Night of Hunters” album, when she returned to her ethereal sounding piano driven arrangements.
In the absense of mainstream musical art, where do we look, when we need to go beyond Lady Gaga to feed our hunger for creative female artists, who supercharge our emotions and fill our intellectual souls.
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Ever heard of Adena Atkins?
Adena is a potpourri mix of Alanis Morrisette and PJ Harvey. A little tiny sprinkle of Bjork and a whole lot of Tori Amos stirred in.
But that’s just the start. To give you an idea of where Adena may be coming from.
Where she is heading, is her own personal story, penned and played, hand to heart. On a canvas that is made up of the world that surrounds her.
Her debut EP, “The Slowest Curve”, is an impressionist pop song cycle. There are four tracks, one for each season.
Each set in front of a window in the morning.
“Glass” opens the EP, representing fall and begins with an interesting synth line and electronic drums. The thoughts of a passionate relationship are intertwined with imagery of night-time and tree branches reaching for the sky. Remiscent of Peter Gabriel arrangements, the track is intimate and sparse. Almost claustrophobic, as Adena’s breathlessly sensual voice disentagles the storyline.
“End of Story” brings the listener to winter and the idea that sometimes relationships just need to end. A natural progression has occurred and a separation is inevitable. The percussion becomes more incessant as Adena sings,
“I slept all through morning
you called me
like church is.”
This line could open forums of discussion, proving that Adena’s songwriting is both couragous and profound.
“April Rain” naturally represents spring with its lovely keyboard melody and driving rhythm. This song sheds winter and exposes the patterns in a relationship and asks the question, why do we break up just to make up again? The writer’s answer is that we live just as nature exists, however one must learn there is beauty in these patterns as well. This track is the most radio friendly and easily perceivable arrangement on the EP. Which doesn’t mean it lacks artistic depth or musical integrity. It is just more easily recognizable by it’s orthodox verse chorus musical orchestration.
Although worlds apart artistically, Adena’s vocals has the same sultry hypnotizing effect that Jennifer Paige has always had on me and milions of fans worldwide. In particular the 1999 track by Jennifer, “Sober”, consolidates my impression. A trait not to be underestimated, and an absolute plus for any singer-songwriter.
“Hot Gray Morning” represents, you guessed it, summer. “As the writer misses home, staring out the window 3,000 miles away from California, I was mesmerized by the foreboding instrumentation, which created an effectively somber mood.” Adena’s voice sounds out like a crystal bell guided by twinkling ivories above a melancholy musical score.
Jay Pinto’s production of “The Slowest Curve” is introverse, sparse and disconsolate in parts. Common traits found in modern society living, and he does nothing, more or less, than to truthfully mirror his contemporaries.
I am therefore persuaded to believe that, Jay Pinto has intentionally created a slender burnished musical frame. To capture the canvas, on which Adena Atkins so delicately and painstakingly paints her sultry shaped vocal pastels.
This, Adena’s debut album is intense and atmospheric, intended for listeners of music that matters.
It requires a decent pair of headphones and an isolated corner.
Then close your eyes and hit play…
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