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Denise Bonis
Imperfect Authentic Cadence
Setting Records

It's one thing to admire an artist, but when you completely fall for them, the music becomes a part of you. From the title and several music terms splashed about, it seems there is some training absent from the average release we see at Hybrid. But it's all grounded. This multi-instrumentalist knows how music works and when to break those rules. Rather than excluding us lesser forms with pomposity, the offerings here draw you in. Denise Bonis's talents as a musician were recognized by Lisa Germano, who enlisted her service for her own latest record. In return, Germano was instrumental in bringing Cadence to fruition.

You've got to listen past the irksome Casio on the first two songs. Backed by this Fisher-Price plunking, Bonis intentionally missteps her vocals. Don't be fooled, it's a red herring. That or a hazing ritual designed to filter out mainstreamers. She throws the first round to knock your ass out later.

Bonis croons in a sultry, sleepy-eyed style similar to Nora Jones but with tasteful and unique flourishes. When the vocals double, the harmonies embrace warmly. A rich thread weaves them around the melody, then leaps over it with intriguing phrasing. Each tune brings a new treat like Dave Stewart buzzing synths or rambling Felt-like piano. The simple Leonard Cohen themes are prettied up with clever accents.

Out of context, the lyrics "I had a dream/it came true/twice in fact I'm embarrassed to tell you/and each time you pull my spine like string/and from my mouth cliches ring pointlessly," are still laudable. But reading them can't compare to when they are plugged into smart progressions and kissed by Bonis' lilt and groan. While the topics span longing, fulfillment and loss, the subtle approach is natural and freeing. There's an acceptance that all these modes are connected and valid. The steamy tone of "Sea Levels" leads to a loss without regret in "Ridiculous," which doesn't distract from the defiance of "I Told You So." A realistic darkness permeates the picture, acknowledging the beauty in sorrow.

Expect more treasures from this rare talent, assuming the handlers don't get hold of her. I'd rather see her go back to selling books than get the Jewel makover.

-Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing:

1. Deprecedent
2. Gypsy
3. Ridiculous
4. Everywhere I Go, Piano
5. Sea Levels
6. It's Not Working
7. Confidence
8. Feels Good
9. I Told You
10. Interlude
11. Hold
12. We're Strange
13. Everywhere I Go, Swelling Strings

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