Amel Larrieux


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Bring on the Greenwich Village eclecticism kissed by California sunshine. Since arriving on the scene as a solo artist in the late '90s --after being half of the celebrated duo Groove Theory with Mantronix rapper Bryce Wilson -- Amel Larrieux has taken the restless path of following her own muse as both a singer and a songwriter. Morning is her third solo offering, and her second for her Blisslife label. Taking the nu-soul aesthetic to new heights, she crafts wonderfully strange and beautiful songs that are big on subtle yet permeating rhythm tracks. Her layered vocals -- replete with her amazing range -- are backed by a glorious combination of electric and acoustic instruments courtesy of her keyboards and her multi-instrumentalist husband, Laru. Standout tracks include the shimmering "Trouble" that opens the set, the slippery light funk of "Unanswered Questions," the skeletal groove-conscious "Earn My Affections," the folk-soul of the title cut, the angular futurism of "Magic," and the nocturnally insistent psychedelic soul closer that is "Mountain of When." That's not to say that the other cuts are losers. There isn't a weak moment here, which raises the question of how a marginal talent like Norah Jones can cut the big time with so little effort when Larrieux -- who is as multi-talented as Alicia Keys and a better singer, and who makes fine records on a fraction of the budget -- remains hanging in the shadows. Morning is sophisticated, soulful, sexy, and forward-looking, and should be checked out by anyone interested in truly great pop music.

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