Stepheni Elli - Stepheni Elli

Newcomer Stepheni Elli has arrived on the scene with a fully-formed debut album.  Is she able to transcend the clutter of 'indie artists' with this largely self-written debut album?  Does Stepheni rival the major label talent?

The album opens with “Lets Do It Again,” a sweeping song about memories of early trips and seeking to reunite the passion of first love. Elli channels her inner Janie Fricke on the album blistering second track, cooing “What would you do if I used you for a little while?” “He Settles My Soul” featuring a scorching R&B guitar lick as dark contrast to Elli's sultry soprano. The contemporary music scene has tended to prefer bluesier voices and has rewarded volume over nuance. Elli transcends this, pushing her voice easily into registers that would elude many of her mainstream sisters. “Have Mercy On Me Moonlight” is a largely piano driven ballad, which serves to showcase the full range of Elli's sweeping vocals. “That Makes You You” is a bright, bouncy love song that deftly pulls from the same ska-based influences as Gwen Stefani. “Shady Trees” returns to Elli's sweet spot, a gently sensual song that find her exploring the territory of a new lover. She switches easily from one nature metaphor to another, comparing a new lover in her man's life as a “Hurricane,” a malicious and destructive force that pulls in and destroys everything in her path. “Meet The Jones” verges on the edge of being too preachy, with its adulterous mother, dysfunctional son and anorexic daughter. However, Elli manages to save it with a vibrant vocal performance which pushes the tempo to add urgency to an otherwise stale lyric. The strongest track on the album is also the bravest. “Stay,” not only share the title of a recent Sugarland hit, but it turns that song entirely on its head. The mistress in Elli's version is no sad little girl crying in the corner because her man is returning to her wife. “I know you're tempted to walk out the door,” she purrs confidently, “look into my eyes and let me tempt you more. I got everything that'll make you want to stay.” When she does bother to think of the wife at home, its with a dismissive “Does she have anything that makes you want to stay?” After the power of “Stay” the bright and infectious “Somethin' Somethin'” seems almost like an afterthought.

Stepheni Elli's debut album is one of very few is recent times willing to step outside the boundaries of how things are already being done on the radio. While this is most evident in the subject matter, it is reflected through out the album. Elli has very striking vocals, and she avoids the trappings female singers are pushed into in this day and age. She plays her soprano, dancing it back and forth between between sultry and sweet, and finding the common ground between those two expressions. Her songs transcend the everyday cliches that have become commonplace in romantic ballads these days, which is perhaps the most unique quality of the whole album. Songs about sex, love and romance have become so littered with easy platitudes that it is difficult to find one that is not forgettable. Elli has created an entire album of songs worth remembering.

You can support Stepheni Elli by purchasing this album at Amazon | iTunes.

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