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Nika Project: Elusive

Geno Thackara By

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When Veronika Griesslehner opens her mouth, you can hear an impressive weight of experience to go with such a young voice. She doesn't try or claim to approach the worldly depths of an Ella Fitzgerald or a Nina Simone and doesn't have to—the similarities in sound here are impressionistic rather than imitative, but those classic divas have given her a few good cues nonetheless. Griesslehner's writing style hints at the old-fashioned swing of the Great American Songbook with a contemporary European twist.

The Austrian singer's initial recording rests in that familiar mode while centering around her own personal experiences. The tone is always sunny even if the thoughts often aren't; she sings of little moments shaped by relationships, good or bad, and friends loved or lost. Her clear voice swoops through bright hooks and sly changes with the fresh energy of youth, staggered with occasional flights of classy lounge-style scatting for good measure. The backing combo meanwhile stays as sharp and smooth as the songs require. Fabian Supanic gets the most prominent moments with a few confident piano solos, but for the most part the players do their job with cool professional competence—knowing just when to briskly hit that groove or stretch that key phrase a beat or two longer, and otherwise making sure the singer's voice is out in front where it should be.

Griesslehner's lyrics are similarly straightforward without going flowery, while the sentiments are relatable enough to make the simplicity refreshing and effective. "I wish you a song that reminds you of someone / sweet melodies that keep repeating in your ears," she croons in the late stretch, and it adeptly summarizes the intent of the album as a whole. Elusive aims to belie its title and settle into your head with an approachable and cozy familiarity. Solid as a debut should be, it shows a developing voice with charm and promise.

Track Listing: Something New (5:31), Cold (6:01), I Guess Your Love Will Remain (5:10), Moving Too Fast (5:17), Time (4:53), Moments (5:08), Highs and Lows (5:18), Deep Green Eyes (5:56), It’s Spring Again (5:22), My Dream My Home (5:25)

Personnel: Veronika Griesslehner: vocals; Fabian Supanic: piano; Thomas Wilding: bass; Roland Hanslmeier: drums; Pascal Uebelhart: tenor saxophone (tracks: 2, 4, 5, 9)

Title: Elusive | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: QFTF


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