The State of Sound

AUDIO EXPERIENCE FROM FRANCE

A Musical Comet

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The jazz and folk scene produces a large number of young female vocalists each year, too many some might even say. Why complain about such diversity? Well, the problem is that many of these new voices are not very original, especially when it comes to jazz, which tends to produce female artists that all sing pretty much the same way. Today, I invite you to take a break from this chorus of soft and sensual voices, which often end up empty of musical substance as a result of too many production effects. I recently found a gem of an artist. However, be warned: we are moving out of the realm of stereotypical female jazz singers.

Indeed, I am not certain that this particular vocalist is a jazz singer. What does the term “jazz” even mean? Jazz is an enormous sponge that unceasingly soaks up different musical trends and styles. Jazz adopts children from all over the world, including them in its ever growing family. That’s what makes it so wonderful !

The artist’s name is Becca Stevens. She began her career a short while ago in the New York music scene. She studied classical guitar and then jazz at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, and it was there that this singer-songwriter met her future band members. She has also notably worked with jazz pianist Brad Medlau.

home04Becca Stevens band

The first musical notes are definitely reminiscent of folk. The bias in the instrumentation is original and audacious. Only acoustic instruments are used: acoustic guitars, a double bass, an accordion, a ukulele, a charango, and a harmonium.The style of the duets clearly harkens back to the grand tradition of American folk music.. In contrast, the orchestration is what we would expect from jazz. Stevens’ work is an intriguing musical hybrid in which rigor and harmonic audacity (no doubt resulting from her solid background in jazz music) generate an ambitious, melodious flight that the individual listener can classify as he or she likes.

Finally, Becca Stevens offers us a voice that is very refreshing, a restorative breath of fresh air. I also applaud the choice to render the natural sonority of her voice instead of employing overly dominant reverberation or other effects. I complained about this trend in a previous post.

In Stevens’ work, melodic audacity and instrumental mastery are never abused in a show of force. Very quickly, the melodies engender a feeling of lightness in the listener, who becomes accustomed to them with surprising ease. This is likely the result of her genuine talent of moving those who are ready to listen. Her melodious and melancholy musical flight trails through our minds like a comet; no doubt it will light up many a lovely winter evening.

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3 songs from her second and most recent album ” Weightless  “ (2011):

” There is a light “

” Weightless ” 

” You can fight ” 

You can listen to an excerpt from her album (mp3 quality) here. Downloads and streaming are also available from Spotify or iTunes, or you can buy the CD here 

Photo credits : Matthew Murphy / beccastevens.com

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This entry was posted on 22/11/2013 by in Coup de coeur, Music and tagged , , , , , .
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