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Not Your Muse (2021), 5/10 Links:

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Celeste Waite, born in Los Angeles but raised in England, refined a sultry jazz phrasing in the tradition of Billie Holiday via the three-song EP The Milk & the Honey (2017) and the five-song EP Lately (2019). The latter contains the nocturnal and bluesy Both Sides of the Moon and Father's Son, in which she sounds like a more emphatic Macy Gray. Her reputation as a vocalist increased thanks to singles such as Coco Blood, She's My Sunshine and especially the piano-driven elegy Strange, her first major collaboration with songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman. Compilation 1.1 collects songs from the EPs and the singles.

In 2020 she released more preparatory singles, including the dramatic I'm Here the anthemic Hear My Voice, and especially the frenzied samba Stop this Flame (another Hartman concoction, co-produced by him with John Hill) whose soaring gospel shout recalls Florence and the Machine's Dog Days are Over. The more danceable Love is Back was not up to them.

Celeste's first album, Not Your Muse (2021), mostly composed and produced by Jamie Hartman, recycled some of the hits and added a handful of ballads, most of which don't stand up to past glory. The only highlights are the tropical lounge Beloved (composed by Hartman and produced by Josh Crocker) which evokes dancehalls and tropical lounges of the 1950s, with more of her epic melismatic crooning, and A Kiss, composed by Hartman with the Swedish duo of Mattias Larsson and Robin Fredriksson, which sounds like a neoclassical version of Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven and the Animals' House Of The Rising Son. There are traces of Broadway showtunes in A Little Love, one of the songs that recall Macy Gray, while the energetic Tell Me Something I Don't Know and Tonight Tonight are further attempts at breaking into the danceclubs. The new material is mostly disappointing, and Celeste's vocal acrobatics is not enough to justify an entire album of it.

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )