Many well-hyped young singerswho straddle the Jazz-Folk divide seem lost in a time warp, imitating another era's stars. But at age 26, New York singer/songwriter Elana Arian writes songs that hint at many influences. Whether it's the vulnerability of Joni Mitchell or soulfulness of Ella Fitzgerald, her songs are distinctly her own.
- John Schaefer, WNYC
Splendid! I reviewed Elana's CD Forward in 2005, and it can be scary to pop a new one in if you really liked the first. Will it be as good? Did the singer get too experimental? Will the artist have grown?
Much relieved after even the first track on this beautifully done album, I sat back and drank in the rest. Elana has come into her own.
Tracks run different moods around, from sunny optimism to dreamy reflection, with some fun tracks in between. Arian's voice is still captivating, and her lyrics have grown from that of a sprightly young lady to that of a woman with more to say. At 26 years old, it is impressive how full and sure her music has become. The folk style remains, but elements of jazz and rock flow more easily through the mix. On this CD, Arian lets the music and lyrics share center stage with her tremendous voice -- a departure from the focus on vocals in the first CD. Arian does repeat "I Know What You're Doing," and for those who have heard her first go at it on Forward, it's fun to see the differences in this classic song's new interpretation.
Favorites on this CD include "Jessie's Song," which works wonderfully, and "Here We Go Again," which is a sassy, fun tune. It was great to have more tracks on this album -- the first CD was a bit of a tease in length with a mere 6 songs. The 11 tracks here leave the listener satisfied and a little excited about what might be around the corner. And the title of the CD evokes a mood that I love.
The kind of artist that improves with age and experience, Elana Arian has crafted a delightful compilation of work here. I eagerly await what's next.
- Catherine L. Tully
Collected Sounds - A Guide to Women in Music
I reviewed Elana's previous release, Foreword, and the only thing I didn't like about it was that it was too short. So I'm very happy to get a full length record from this very talented singer and songwriter.
She has a fabulous way with melodies. I am always impressed when songwriters come up with melodies that are unexpected. Writing songs is hard! I know this, this is why I am a critic, not an artist. I especially love how Elana takes some chances with style. She's not all folk or pop. "Here We Go Again" is almost rock-a-billy and it's wonderful. "Because of You" also has a bit of an old-tymie swingin' feel. She's very proficient at all these styles. The piano on the latter is amazing.
I am simply adoring this record. I'm actually not sure why this woman is not already famous. She has a fantastic voice, writes incredible songs and plays a plethora of instruments. Record labels, are you listening?!
Some other stand outs are "Still Here" and the opening track "Jessie's Song"....and "Metaphor You" is jaw-dropping. Just...*sigh* What a way to end a fantabulous album.
- Amy Lotsberg, Producer of Collected Sounds
Left Hip Magazine
New York City singer-songwriter Elana Arian's Foreword is a masterfully-crafted album featuring an impressive cast of players known for their work with Norah Jones, Dido, Lisa Loeb and They Might Be Giants. Arian has a very smooth voice and songwriting style that will appeal to fans of Joni Mitchell and Margo Guryan. Highlights include the jazz-inflected "I Know What You're Doing" and the extremely musical "Too Soon." The album is highly listenable from start to finish - the playing is very tasty, the recording quality top-notch. On the whole this album is very good.
- Gordon B. Isnor
The Green Man Review
This short (only 6 songs) album shows Arian's mastery of a variety of styles, from the frenetic "in the backroom," which reminds me of Ani Difranco, to sultry swing of "I know what you're doing" to ballads and the Leonard-Cohenesque "Anyway", where evocative lyrics predominate. She's a strong songwriter and singer.
- Vonnie Carts-Powell
The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music
This debut EP is a good start. Arian has a sweet voice and she sings beautifully. "I Know what you're doing" is a pleasingly jazzy song - she even scats impressively. "This Time" is bittersweet and blue. "In the backroom" is a funky track that proves she has mastered more than one style. This is an impressive debut.
- S.T. Jarnell
Foreword is Elana Arian's debut EP, and I will bet it will be the first of many to come. In this six-song collection, there are a lot of dreamy moments which are spiced up with a little fun in between. It is the kind of music that you can like even if you don't know the lyrics but enjoy that much more when you do.
Arian's clear voice rings forth without piercing on "Last Summer Night." This is a song that stays with you. It doesn't stand up and demand your attention, but instead settles around you making it comfortable to curl up, listen and enjoy. The music is peripheral in this track -- as it should be -- only offering support to Arian's strong voice.
My other favorite track was "This Time," which at moments almost reminded me of a softer-sounding Indigo Girls tune. The images are simple, but the lyrics work beautifully here:
It could've been like flying, like chocolate, like fire
It could've been like feeling your heartbeat next to mine
It could've been like laughing, like snowfall, like thunder
But now it's just like crying, like waiting, like darkness
It's just like watching you get caught up in a crime
Again it's just like drowning, like rainstorms, like silence ... this time ...
"I Know What You're Doing" harkens back to the days of Ella Fitzgerald, which comes as a surprise after the folk sound of the song before it, but not in an unpleasant way. The song is a good vehicle for Arian's voice, and the range allows her to use her voice to its fullest with a fun "scat" tribute.
The dreamiest piece is "Anyway," which is a nice choice to close with, since you just drift with the music. Arian shares the song with the sound of the guitar here, and it makes for a full, rich track that still manages to be peaceful. The quality of her voice is able to change to suit the lyrics, which is a skill not every singer has.
"In The Backroom" is the only song that didn't quite fit, being a little brassier and going off in another direction musically than the other songs. Still, Arian's voice slips easily through the notes, and it makes one wonder if she shouldn't consider another CD in this style. This lady doesn't seem to sing anything badly.
Foreword is one of those albums that is classified as a folk style but isn't afraid to move beyond the standard definition and stretch out a little. Artists grow this way, and I think we have seen one that will pop up again and surprise us all. I'm impressed.
- Catherine L. Tully
If this is the “Foreword”, I can’t wait for the denouement and the blissful Afterword. Elana’s voice is as sweet as pop’s finest crooners and the mastering job that Steve Kadison (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Macy Gray, Carole King) really brings her vocals out and thrusts it into the spotlight just as a singer/songwriter should want to arm themselves with. Her rearing on classical, free-form jazz, and folk are blended perfectly on an album that Norah Jones wish she debuted with. “I Know What You’re Doing” shows off her dynamics and perfect range with its beautiful jazzy and soulful verses that will get your toes tapping and your full attention in a split second—just check out her version of jazzy skat on the bridge. When you have something as imaginative as this album is, you shouldn’t be too surprised to find out that the percussionist plays not just your standard percussion instruments but also throws in frying pans, aluminum claws, and glass coffee tables to punctuate the superb ingenuity that pumps blood into each of the six tracks. Watch out for Elana Arian, I smell a Grammy nod coming her way.
Elana seems like a lovely person. While this is not something I would normally listen too, I enjoyed it. She has a mixture of classical, jazz and folk. There's some Ella Fitzgerald mixed with some Joni Mitchell on this album. She's doing a North American tour so I would definitely check out her. She's very calming and something I could see myself listening to on a cold, sunny morning if I were in the mood (if that makes sense)!
- Laura Encarnado
Collected Sounds - A Guide to Women in Music
Elana Arian has a sweet comfortable voice that sounds perfect singing these well-written jazzy folk tunes..."I Know What You're Doing" has a great old time jazz sound to it...There is some beautiful guitar finger picking on "This Time". This track felt like a friend after the second listen. Great melody, great lyrics, she has a knack for knowing what words click together. I wish everyone could hear this one. "Anyway" is also gorgeous. I can't wait to hear more from this talented woman.
- Amy Lotsberg