EP Review: Monique Angele – Alive

Australia-based singer-songwriter Monique Angele is from Canada; her performance schedule is neatly split between the two countries. Despite its name, this EP is a studio collection. It features Angele’s gentle and expressive vocals atop uncluttered yet soaring arrangement full of piano and strings.

There’s a strong melancholy feel to the string parts on “Pink Colored Sky,” and it continues even when more conventionally rock-oriented instrumentation (drums, electric bass) enter the mix. Even when the music swells dramatically, Angele’s voice soars above it all. “I Want a World” dials back the instruments, focusing mostly on piano and voice. But it showcases nearly as much power as the previous track; the stacked backing vocals add lovely texture.

“Hold On’ takes the arrangement values of those first two cuts and applies them to a more pop-centered style. But again, the vocals are the center of attention. “Our Paradise” returns to the wide-screen production style; it’s faintly reminiscent of some of Kirsty MacColl’s work. “Forever Strong” is an uptempo number enlivened by a busy drum track and more thrush vocals. A brief spoken-word part feel a bit unnecessary, but it doesn’t ruin the tune. “Rare Girl” features the most complex and assured piano work on the collection.

Verdict: expertly played and arranged, and the melodies are solid if unspectacular. But they needn’t be, because Monique Angele’s voice is the star here.