Lili Añel

Every Second in Between

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In a career dating back 30 years, Lili Añel has now made four albums, the first of which, Laughed Last, came out 15 years ago. With that much experience, she can hardly be called a developing artist, so a reviewer shouldn't be falling back on comparisons to better-known performers to describe her. And yet a listen to Every Second in Between inevitably brings to mind other thoughtful folk-rock singer/songwriters with expressive contralto voices, particularly Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman. Añel's voice is not as deep as theirs are, but it is similar, especially because much of the time she sings similar-sounding songs. Occasionally, she leans toward other styles, with the samba-inflected "Supposed to Be" and "So Far Away," with its Latin rhythm and partially Spanish lyrics, having a South American feel, while her take on "That's All I Want from You," with its piano accompaniment, recalls Nina Simone, who sang the song before her. But much of the time, Añel plays melodic folk-rock music and sings torch songs with articulate lyrics in which a first-person narrator is addressing a "you" with whom she seems to have an emotional relationship that is not working out. She is effective at getting across the anguish that causes, but not sufficiently distinctive a writer to make her observations uniquely compelling. The songs thus come off as vehicles for her voice, which makes her more of a stylist than a creative force and underlines the problem of her similarity to other, more prominent singers. Still, if you love Armatrading or Chapman or Simone (or Phoebe Snow or Norah Jones, for that matter), you may like Lili Añel quite a lot.

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