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Album Review

Becca Stevens and Elan Mehler: Pallet On Your Floor

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Becca Stevens and Elan Mehler: Pallet On Your Floor
Elan Mehler is well known as a producer and as co-founder of the all-vinyl Newvelle Records label, which he co-founded in 2016. Mehler's pianist-composer bona fides are long-established. His eight recordings to date have reflected a wide variety of approaches. The experimental remixes of Scheme For Thought (Brownswood Recordings, 2007), classical influences on Early Sunday Morning (Challenge Records, 2014), and the carnival raucousness of TJ and the Revenge (Little Lost Records, 2019) are in the mix. But, early on in Mehler's recording career, he teamed with vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Becca Stevens on the quintet date The After Suite (Brownswood Recordings, 2009). The pair reunite on an eclectic Pallet on your Floor

Stevens is a 2021 Grammy Award nominee for arrangement, instrumental and vocals for her album Wonderbloom (GroundUP Music, 2020). She has collaborated to critical acclaim with David Crosby on Here If You Listen (BMG, 2018) and has performed with Brad Mehldau, Esperanza Spalding, Ambrose Akinmusire, Vijay Iyer and many other top-tier artists. Stevens made her Newvelle Records debut with the Chris Tordini Trio on Midnight Sun (2017).

It would be easy to describe Stevens and Mehler as an amicable duo given the familiarity and gracefulness that pervade Pallet on your Floor. But there is more here; Stevens lends an incandescent quality to old, over-recorded standards such as Gershwin's, "Our Love is Here to Stay," and the Van Heusen-Burke classic "But Beautiful." Stevens mines her deep, rich, stylistic references to put a unique spin on these pieces. In tandem with Mehler's noctilucent readings, it is all very fresh and engaging.

The highlights of Pallet on your Floor are the blues numbers. Duke Ellington's "I Ain't Got Nothing but the Blues" and the debatably attributed W.C. Handy title track. Stevens and Mehler's deliveries are poetic and earnest; the closing piece, moving in its spirituality and poignancy. These two artists have an abundance of commendable projects in their portfolios, but this stripped-down collection is a most striking showcase of their talents.

Track Listing

Elvis Presley Blues; But Beautiful; I Ain't Got Nothing but the Blues; Our Love is Here to Stay; Deep Purple; Just Squeeze Me; Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.

Personnel

Becca Stevens: voice / vocals; Elan Mehler: piano.

Album information

Title: Pallet On Your Floor | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Newvelle Records

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