Al­bums by Eden Miner and El­iz­a­beth Shep­herd

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

EDEN MINER Eden Miner (sel­f­re­leased) When Eden Miner moved to Santa Fe as a child in 1987, she be­gan study­ing pi­ano with Gil­lian McHugh. The in­flu­ence of th­ese clas­si­cal stud­ies is ev­i­dent many years later in the singer-song­writer’s strong, re­cently re­leased de­but EP. But the pi­ano is just one of many voices fill­ing out the six var­ied songs on the al­bum, which run the gamut from coun­try and folk to at­mo­spheric dark pop. Af­ter writ­ing the mu­sic and lyrics, Miner turned to lo­cal pro­ducer John Kurzweg, who rounded out the pieces with enough in­stru­men­ta­tion to give each song a rich full-band sound. The sec­ond track, “To Fly,” may be the most char­ac­ter­is­tic and re­playable, with its driv­ing, stac­cato pi­ano, eerie strings, fuzzy bass, and in­sis­tent vo­cals from Miner. “Easy Days,” on the other hand — a song that is de­cep­tively melan­choly, given its ti­tle — of­fers the best show­case of Miner’s abil­ity on keys and her ear for sub­tle vo­cal har­mony. “I grew up in a fam­ily of mu­si­cians and singers. My dad was a folk singer and gui­tar player, and he taught all of his seven chil­dren his fa­vorite songs so we could sing in har­mony with him,” Miner told Pasatiempo . Sur­pris­ingly, much of her fa­vorite mu­sic comes from non­singers. Her list of in­flu­ences in­cludes Chopin and Miles Davis, along with leg­endary vo­cal­ists Bon­nie Raitt and Ella Fitzger­ald — a range that helps ex­plain the eclec­ti­cism be­hind her com­po­si­tions. — Loren Bien­venu

EL­IZ­A­BETH SHEP­HERD The Sig­nal (Li­nus En­ter­tain­ment) To­day women dom­i­nate the cat­e­gory of jazz mu­si­cians who are equally pro­fi­cient at vo­cals and pi­ano. Join­ing the ranks of con­tem­po­rary greats that in­clude Eliane Elias, Pa­tri­cia Bar­ber, and Diana Krall is Mon­treal’s El­iz­a­beth Shep­herd. This is her sixth al­bum and the first to fea­ture all orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions. Her domain sashays among pop, R& B, and jazz, while her top­i­cal ref­er­ences in­clude war, In­dia’s cot­ton in­dus­try, moth­er­hood, and rape and forced mar­riage in Africa. “Wil­low,” the opener, fea­tures fine, funkadelic Rhodes pi­ano, with Shep­herd’s cool, clear vo­cals ac­cen­tu­ated by Lionel Loueke’s gui­tar and Ro­man Tomé’s poppy drums. It segues into “What’s Hap­pen­ing,” her lus­ciously dou­ble-tracked singing giv­ing way to a cel­e­bra­tory, sum­mery vibe that re­calls Flora Purim. Bassist Scott Kemp un­der­lines Shep­herd’s syn­co­pated Rhodes work. The ti­tle track opens with a rap — “Don’t you love those sto­ries about peo­ple who ar­range to meet, let’s say, like in five years’ time some­where” — and you get the feel­ing you’re in a club au­di­ence. The first half’s vo­cals (shared with Alex Sa­ma­ras) and ru­bato bass pro­ceed with a repet­i­tive, sus­pense­ful, sin­glekey pi­ano note, af­ter which Shep­herd heads into bal­lad ter­ri­tory. Among the other high­lights are the stormy “Lion’s Den” and “I Gave,” a sim­mer­ing song about Mother Teresa’s doubts and sor­rows that fea­tures kal­imba and tuned-bot­tles per­cus­sion. The Sig­nal is fas­ci­nat­ing and pow­er­ful. — Paul Wei­de­man

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