Samantha Siva

Masquerade

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AllMusic Review by

British-born singer of Sri Lankan heritage Samantha Siva has achieved all of her global accolades while releasing now three recordings on her own label, and she's made some incredible all-star friends who continue to lend solid emotional and musical support. Although having names like Richard Elliot, David Benoit, Bob Berg, and Chieli Minucci will help attract smooth jazz radio, Siva's best moments are found on tracks without them. It's a blast for sure hearing Elliot's tenor driving the peppy groove of the whimsical "Answer to Your Soul," and Benoit's acoustic piano and co-production add grace and lush ambience to "Coco la Mer" (on which the well-traveled Siva sings a bit in French), the emotional "Clouds," and the swinging traditional jazz-flavored trio piece "Six O'Clock." Yet the track that engages most is the simple and eloquent "You Inspire Me," which features only piano accompaniment and is reminiscent of Lauren Christy's brilliant if obscure self-titled early-'90s debut album. On many of the other tracks, particularly the opener, "Masquerade," Siva is trying too hard to be the next Sade. This will win her fans, of course, but many of the tracks hint at a deeper vocal artistry. If the vocal element of her career ever fails, her sharp piano skills will keep folks enraptured. "Spirit Chaser" is a lush, new agey pop ballad, but the most surprising moment on the album is the fiery, discofied Latin jam featuring her on piano and Rhodes. "Poquita di Paraguana" is introduced by the gentle acoustic guitar strains of guest star Chieli Minucci.

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