Annabel (lee) is Richard and Sheila Ellis digging into their shared musical loves, from the mystical piano music of Debussy to the jazzy chanteuse vocalist tradition, via both abstract songcraft and cinema-style orchestral sweep. Second album The Cleansing is yet more accomplished in blending all these wonderful things satisfactorily than the previous album. Its out via the Youngbloods label.
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- The Cleansing by Annabel (lee)
9/10 Clinton Staff review, 12 December 2017
Strangely, the first album by this duo came out on Ninja Tune but this one is on Youngbloods. I'm not sure what happened between but the 'Tune are missing a trick with this a beautiful drift of an album that more than lives up to their much loved debut. The tone throughout is a kind of ghostly take on jazz and bossa nova influenced songwriting. Things are kept sparse with just the nylon struck guitar patterns of Richard Ellis underpinning Sheila Ellis's Ella Fitzgerald like vocal inflections. The duo stretch into understated sampledelia on the title track, a cinematic piece with the sort of David Lynch like atmosphere's that should ensure an appearance on the latest Twin Peaks soundtrack.
But the duo really excel on their dreamy jazz numbers of which there are many examples here. 'Far' is the best though - an utterly delicious slab of eveningsong - the sort of thing perfect for a hazy veranda in the beginning days of summer. The Ellis's alongside the likes of Melanie De Biaso are forging new patterns in soulful, jazz influenced music that harks back to the golden era of singers such as Billie Holliday whilst adding in the sort of eerie haunted atmospheres and gothic undertones.
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