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Melissa Stylianou: Sliding Down

Jerry D'Souza By

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Melissa Stylianou has long established herself as one of the hottest singers in Canada. She took off from Toronto, soaring into the imagination of listeners, and with good reason: she interprets a song with articulate assurance and a fine sense of phrasing.

Stylainou has paid her dues. She formed her first band, a trio, in 1997. Four years later she augmented the lineup, turning the group into a sextet. Her tours of Canada cemented her reputation, as well as her performances in Toronto, where she has played most often at the Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar.

Stylianou's astute choice of tunes on this recording encompasses standards that would test the mettle of any singer, a Lennon/McCartney song and her own compositions. She pares her backup to a trio for the percolating "Them There Eyes. Her voice is peppy and sparkling as she dances into the percussion of Alan Hetherington. She captures the mood perfectly, wistfulness moving into fulfillment and joy.

The mood is quieter on "All of You. Stylianou again imparts heartfelt depth, aided by an empathic trio with some tasteful electric guitar playing by Rob Piltch. "L'Amite is a standout track. It's in French, and Stylianou is right at home in the language, imbuing the song with a captivating allure. Kevin Breit adds to the dynamics on the tenor guitar. Any of the original compositions is worth dwelling on, but the story of a relationship on "Two Across has its own particular appeal. It's about love that beats and palpitates and resides in the heart, carrying its own special meaning.

Stylianou now resides in New York. Hopefully, she will gain the wider recognition she deserves. If any proof is required, it comes up trumps on this recording.

Track Listing: Them There Eyes; Mary

Personnel: Melissa Stylianou: vocals; Kim Ratcliffe: acoustic guitar; Artie Roth: bass; Ted Warren: drums; Alan Hetherington: drums and percussion; Kevin Breit: mandolin, acoustic, tenor, electric slide and national steel guitars; Kevin Fox: cello; Jamie Reynolds: piano; Rob Piltch: electric guitar; Davide Direnzo: drums; Jon Maharaj: bass.

Title: Sliding Down | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Sleepin' Bee

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