Ellen M. Wilson – Songs of Ascent (CD)

“Songs of Ascent” starts out with “Modah Ani”, a track that has a contemporary sound, albeit one that is tinted with a Middle Eastern flow. When Wilson’s vocals begin, they operate more as an additional instrument instead of going forth and furthering a narrative. This shift in the role of the vocals represents just one of many things that Wilson changes and does differently on “Songs of Ascent”, an album that stands out due to the uniqueness of its character. “Eil Na R’fa Na Lah” has a heavy flute and piano presence to its opening, before Wilson’s vocals give listeners something more tangible with which to grip on. Wilson’s heavenly vocals have a classic feel to them: one, after listening to the track, could easily envision Wilson singing in 1608 as much as she fits singing in 2008.

Where there seems to be a division made with current artists between the vocal and the instrumental, Wilson’s blending of the two distinct segments creates something that is fresh and exciting. There may not be a driving drum beat or guitars shredding their way through the tracks on “Songs of Ascent”, but the intricate vocal arrangements that are par for the course on “Songs of Ascent” will get listeners excited and eagerly anticipating the next track. “Pitchu Li” opens up with a piano line that sets the mode for the track, leading in to Wilson’s vocals. The vocals and piano walk hand in hand, each bolstering the other to a higher level than would normally occur.

Where a number of the tracks on “Songs of Ascent” have a 17th-century feel to them, “Pitchu Li” elicits comparisons to the Renaissance period. The piano line expands upon that sound, adding a pinch of Tori Amos influence to the overall composition, creating yet another reason for listeners to pick up “Songs of Ascent”. “Songs of Ascent” touch upon the past, present, and even future in music, with each subsequent track on the album adding to the rich tapestry that Wilson and her band began with “Modah Ani”. If you are a fan of classical music, make it a point to pick up “Songs of Ascent” when it is released September 13th; if you are in the El Paso area, check her web site to see if you can attend any of her live performances.

Top Tracks: Adonai Oz, Shir Chadash

Rating: 7.8/10

Ellen M. Wilson – Songs of Ascent / 2008 Self / 10 Tracks / http://www.ellenmwilson.com /

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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