There is something to be said for persistence, particularly if you can back it up with talent. Eve Selis is the former and has the latter, and we’re better off for it. It didn’t always have to be this way, however.
Selis has been at this for some time, and her music has always delivered, but her career trajectory has never been stratospheric. It is a dirty little non-secret that artists, and particularly musicians, are often needy. When one writes a song that comes from a personal place and it is not calculated or focus-grouped into existence, there is every expectation that people will respond to it and take it on as fervently as the creator did in its creation. Selis has that loyal core fanbase that has stuck with her through (now) nine records, so what she does is working. But again and again, that lack of response from the critical mass public is stifling. Nothing slams the brakes on the creative high like that feeling of indifference. Nothing gets you thinking, “Why bother?” as efficiently. As the story goes, that’s where Selis was not too long ago.
Something flipped a switch. Selis suffered a physical injury that sidelined her for half a year. Everything else had to wait while recovery took precedence. It gave her time to examine the question of “why am I doing this” unencumbered by being neck-deep in it. The result, See Me With Your Heart, finds Selis coming to terms with her process and motivation, offering up eleven songs that run a little deeper than her previous efforts. One gets the impression that she’s rediscovered the groove where these tunes would have existed even if they were never recorded, and that Selis would have been fine with it.
Selis’ deep voice is commanding, and is complimented well with the arrangements she’s concocted with producer Kenny Greenberg. While the album leans heavy on the side of introspective ballads, such as the standout title track, she takes some opportunities to rip things up too. Try the gospel-blues ramp of “Still Have A Long Way To Go” or the country-pop offering “Slow Down.” These are pivotal tracks as they help lighten what could have been a rather tough listen, not because of deficiencies in the music — far from it — but because the subjects aren’t your standard feel-good fare. A prime example of this is the best cut on the disc, “The Man He Never Was.” Sung from the perspective of a woman coming to terms with disillusionment with her father, deconstructing the fantasy light she had hung over him for so long, you cannot imagine this song occupying the territory of Southern-tinged parent-child narratives like “I Hope You Dance” or “Butterfly Kisses.”
In other words, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a song Selis wanted to write, either emotionally or strategically, but one she felt like she had to write. It isn’t a likely candidate for hit status. It’s not sassy or revenge-filled or prone to break out a party, but is exactly why its presence here retains its power. On See Me With Your Heart, Selis is singing for the sake of the song without the hindrances of hoping how it might be received by an audience. The introspection works tremendously.
Eve Selis’ See Me With Your Heart is highly recommended if you are a fan of the country-pop/Americana/singer-songwriter sound. You can find it on her Bandcamp page at: http://eveselis.bandcamp.com/album/see-me-with-your-heart at at CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/eveselis6