Ella Mar is 26-year-old Israeli musician Hila Tako. During her mandatory military service, she studied at a branch of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (Manhattan) in Tel Aviv Conservatory. Breaking away from tradition, Mar decided to unleash the singer/songwriter in her. Mar’s debut album, Embodimental is her dreams realized.
The album incorporates symphonic finishes with string embellishments and horns. In this record, Mar blends in the acoustic with electric. Her compositions contain synth integrated alt rock infused with folk and jazz orchestrated with symphonic overtures. The melding of sound is both intricate and rich.
Embodimental opens up with “Hold Your Fire,” where invigorating synths sound off on this track. Mar’s vocals are operatic and theatrical. The cadence is highly dramatic. The strings add a lush appeal. The song contains a smooth jazzy vibe. A cool and soothing blend. The beats are slow, simmering and seething in the backdrop of this track. A piano melody traces this melancholy-tinged song.
Following is “Moonlit Night,” where syncopated beats and synths start off this track. Mar sings with emotion and flair. The vocals shimmer with a bit of reverb. Horns add another intricate scope to this striking song. Mar scats on this jazz infused song.
On “The Sinner,” melodious numerating on the acoustic guitar is accompanied by synths and Mar’s smooth vocals. The arrangement is sparse and stripped-down. Next, a bouncy electronic beat sidles in, giving off a more exhilarating feel. Strings add in a lush appeal, tracing the gamut of this track.
The closer “Singing For You” has some lovely strings pervade on the start of this track. Acoustic guitar riffs add in a bit of numerating. The sound is soothing and placating. The song has a lulling feel to it much like a lullaby. A sweet lush sound is carried forth.
Mar’s vocals pivot between intense and soft. With an operatic voice, Mar sings with finesse and with a bit of theatrics. Mar really owns her sound in these textual jazz-infused folk and alt rock numbers. She sings with passion on these polished productions.
Mar ties in her singer/songwriter sensibility with her formal training as a jazz singer to produce a record that connects the listener with subjects that include depression, PTSD, destructive relationships and love. Embodimental is a cohesive album that delves into a strong signature sound. Evoking a haunting cadence with brushes of folk, rock and jazz, Mar’s tender vocals and edgy lyrics embraces the shadowy abyss without giving into the darkness. Her charismatic voice traverses uncharted territory catering to a world on the peripheral. Because of this, I could really see these group of songs being showcased perhaps in a Tim Burton movie soundtrack. Tinged with grace and melancholy, these striking set of songs will leave a searing imprint onto listeners.
A little on the short side – a lot of these tracks arrived at the three-minute hold – I thought these songs were fine-tuned to give the most exponential amount of emotion that could be packed into them – and the results were ratifying. Embodimental is an excellent record.
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