Published on November 9th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann0
CD Review: Estee Gabay
Estee Gabay’s surprisingly solid debut Green sways from contemporary electronic pop to acoustic guitar-driven alternative rock with relative ease. The young songwriter’s six-song collection bridges elements of classic soul, early-’90s rock diva action, and bits of modern underground pop. Some tunes are straightforward and melodic. Others feature left-field arrangements and a Euro-pop veneer.
Gabay spent most of 2012 working on arrangements and tracks with local musician and studio engineer Ryan Zimmerman (of Brave Baby) at Zimmerman’s home studio the Space. Their time and effort paid off well as none of Green comes off as a homemade demo or low-budget EP.
The spare, whispery, acoustic guitar-based “Taste The Night” sways with an exotically syncopated rhythm. Congas and cymbals complement the slinky snare drum downbeats. Gabay has plenty of space to explore her range, holding and bending notes along the way. The uptempo “Girl Like Me” follows with a sloppy country drum beat underneath Gabay’s emotive singing. Gabay pulls a few soul singer tricks out of her arsenal vocal stylings, aiming for lovefool sexiness. She sounds convincingly heartbroken and anguished on the softer acoustic ballad “You Lied.”
Gabay’s vocal acrobatics can sometime be over-the-top, and the some of the more fiery runs seem slightly forced, but her delivery is strong and sincere throughout most of Green. Unaffected, he voice is sturdy enough to carry a melody without too many extra fireworks.
If the guitar-based songs seem more personal and innocent, the two standout synth-based tracks depict a lustier charm. The hip-hop-in-space synth intro of “Smile Pretty” switched gears completely. As far as modern Top 40 radio goes, this is the real gem in the collection. The airy, smooth-grooving “Hold Me Close.” One of serene love songs on the album, this one has more depth and feeling than some of the rest.
Stylistically, Green comes full-circle on the delicate closer “Sing,” which lilts with powdery guitar chords, shakers, and accented drums. Gabay belts it out with a little bit of rapper bravado and a plenty of righteous babe tones.
Overall, Green is an impressive and confident first step for an eager up-and-comer. A smartly produced, well-crafted, mature piece of work like this could help launch Gabay into more ambitious things.
Estee Gabay shares the stage at the Pour House with Will Hastings and Holy City Hellrasier and Jordan Igoe and Mackie Boles on Sat. Nov. 10. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $7 ($5 advance). Gabay performs a free solo show at the Crab Shack on Folly Beach on Sat. Dec. 1.
Visit esteegabay.com for more.
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