If you’ve heard the name of Angela McCluskey but can’t place it is because she’s been around for a while now – first with the L.A.-based Wild Colonials and then with French trio Telepopmusik – and although you’ve probably heard her songs in a show like Boardwalk Empire, she consciously goes out of her way to keep out of the limelight, preferring to let the music do all the talking. And now, her newest release, The Roxy Sessions is delivering a very loud and attention-drawing roar. It’s an interesting mix of European-styled torch and music hall songs (in a Brechtian vein), some chill grooves and well, a completely indescribably stew.
As I said, the image of European music halls comes to mind with the opening track, “Eight Stories High” which starts off like a distant cousin of “Whiskey Bar” with Ms. McCluskey’s voice taking on inflections of Billie Holiday, but then “Not Crying Anymore” has the sound of a flapper’s band with horns but pulsed by electronic dancebeats and “Let’s Get Lost” also sounds like it roared out of the ’20’s but has “modern” drums. “Turn Out The Lights” sounds like an early-to-mid ’60’s spy soundtrack theme (or a cousin of The Propellerheads’ “History Repeating”) and is brassy and exciting; “You And Me” is completely in the “now”, with a sweet soul-pop feel (this sounds like it would have fit nicely on a Style Council album); “Paris To Hollywood” is one of those odd mixes of early ’60’s French-flavored melodies (the kind you’d hear in a movie) with a drum track layered over it and it works and “Insufficient Feeling” is a warm Jobim-styled piece with acoustic guitar, vibes and a Brazilian cafe feel.
Admittedly, this is out of my usual wheelhouse, but there’s something about it I like; her voice is embracing – at times downright sexy; the mixture of styles is interesting and it’s not your standard fare, dance music or otherwise. So do check out Angela McCluskey’s The Roxy Sessions; it’ll definitely serve as a musical landscape for a quick mental getaway.
The Roxy Sessions is available now