Vivre –  Elizabeth Anne Mall (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

f5c88da2-29a8-4bbd-af29-f8cdfb8d4c26Revolutions are usually too jarring to be of any real use and evolution is often too slow a process, but what Vivre represents is a gentle and purposeful nudging forward of the pop package, an unhurried but deliberate direction of travel. It also represents a point where pop brushes up against and intertwines with a number of other genres, absorbing some of their features more by osmosis than hard design.

Elizabeth Anne Mall’s sophomore record is deft blend of alt-pop and neo-classicism, it has the touch of modern commerciality, though shying away form cheap gimmicks and the fickle finger of fashion and instead weaving emotive strings, brooding cellos and plaintive piano lines through the more vibrant musical colours. It contains more than a dash of a minimalist neo-folk vibe and revels in space and atmosphere.

Heroes in particular seems to encapsulate all of these hallmarks throughout its slow and sultry journey, rising from spacious balladry and hushed tones through slow burning classical builds and ending in a wonderfully unexpected diminuendo. I can’t overstate just how brilliantly understated this song is.

Elsewhere, she proves that it is not just the timeless torch song that she is mistress of, and You Make Me Happy is, as a title like that might suggest, a peppy little groove that instantly puts a smile on your face, Selfless is a restrained chamber-pop classic and Take Me Away could easily be riding high in the mainstream pop charts even as we speak.

People often observe that the music industry is now driven by a template sound, one that seems designed by a marketing team and fawns to this week’s trends, one which seems to be mass produced on sonic production lines and touted by dead behind the eyes divas and delusional chancers. That may be so but it is comforting to know that underneath that manufactured scene is a wealth of independent artists just waiting for the tables to turn, for their day in the sun, their quiet, peaceful and affable revolution. Imagine if that actually happened, that art rather than industry was the deciding factor, imagine if an artist such as Elizabeth Anne Mall represented the new pop sound. Wouldn’t that be something? We need to make that happen. Now!


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