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CD REVIEW: No Turning Back by Eleanor Tallie

Unlikely journeys often make for the very best music. Few journeys, superficially, seem as interesting as Eleanor Tallie’s. This young Israeli born performer grew up in a highly musical family, received a first class classical music education, and showed signs of the creativity we’re now witnessing at a very early age. However, probably few could have predicted that she would gravitate towards blues and soul music. 2011 saw her professional debut when she joined an internationally touring blues band and served as its lead vocalist and songwriter. She moved to the United States in 2013 and made the Memphis, Tennessee area her home. This relocation gave her the needed springboard for introducing herself to American audiences and she performed one hundred and eighty shows across the nation over the next eighteen months.

She began work on her debut recording in the spring of 2015. Defining her sound as “neo-funk”, Tallie is actually mining a fairly common field that’s closer to an anagram of various influences. Soul, blues, and funk all find their way into her music but, moreover, there’s a strong singer/songwriter aesthetic that turns the songs in intelligent, lyrically adroit ways. Tallie has, likewise, enlisted help from some top notch collaborators. The EP’s opening song, “Hell or Heaven”, features important vocal contributions from Lil Riah, but the unquestioned vocal star of the show remains Tallie. The opener proves her voice is a remarkably elastic instrument that she’s able to do anything she wants with without ever losing the emotive edge that puts it over the top. The lyrical content never gets too complex to the point of inaccessibility, but she brings a surprisingly literary flair to the songwriting. “I Tried”, like many of the EP’s tracks, has a very live sound thanks in no small part to its opener. The groove bobs and weaves throughout the song’s duration and Tallie does an excellent job of filling the spaces and wrapping her vocals around the fluid rhythm section work.

Lil Riah returns as a collaborator on the EP’s third song, “Sunlight”. The song’s more evidence of Tallie’s direct and uncomplicated eloquence and its lyrical quality mixed with her uber-distinctive voice enhances its emotional depth. “Sunlight” is much more firmly in the soul genre camp than the EP’s earlier tracks, but Tallie’s collaborators never play with anything less than consummate skill. “My Present” is a feisty, funk-flavored delight. Tallie fires her voice up with a lot of bite and defiance – much of the EP’s positivity comes from the fact that these songs, at their hearts, are about never giving up and moving on towards the distant horizon. “Gotta Be Happy” revisits her soul music leanings and demonstrates the same commitment to maintaining a strong groove.

The EP’s last track “A Real Man” isn’t some romantic, dreamy invocation of Tallie’s yearning, but instead a final grittily soulful cut that ends No Turning Back on a groovy and emphatic note. Eleanor Tallie establishes herself as one of the premier blossoming talents on the indie music scene today.

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by Lydia Hillenburg

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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