Annabel (lee) summons you to enter the world of Goth inspired Jazz. Enchanting vocals and rich textural sounds of the ensemble will send chills down your spine and transport you to another place.
In a climate where mainstream music can often sound like a one dimensional cacophony, undeveloped, predictable and repetitive. Sensuous harmonies cut through the noise like a hot knife against butter. Annabel (lee) carves against the grain and transports listeners to the future using the historical vehicle of masterful instrumentation, intentional composition and lyrical poetry.
Jason and I sat gripping each other’s forearms, quite literally on the edge of our seats. As the band settled into the small space Sheila stood perched on the edge of the platform cooing and chirping gently into the microphone. I’m instantly transfixed. A bow drags against the strings of the cello, sending ripples across the spine and we enter another dimension. Eerily reciting/performing/enacting Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel (lee) the band bustles, painting the room with watercolor sounds in an auditory cinema. As the recitation comes to a climatic end we are suddenly awakened by a friendly and natural greeting. They let you dive in but not drown in their artistry.
With each progression the audience became increasingly aware that we were witnessing something special and that in future tales of the night, the magic we felt would be unique to us, until the next time. Sheila and Maia, the flutist, mirrored each other’s voice and played with eerie harmonies in unison and in contrast haunting the room with unspeakable beauty.
Basic Flowers is already a gorgeously odd venue that is both art gallery and music hall. The band carried us through a repertoire of songs original and covered. And oh, how they covered. Annabel (lee) performed a rendition of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints that pulled the listener close and then far altering our perspectives and relationship with the original piece.
Long story short we had to meet them. Happened quite organically and suddenly at the same time. While we were still buzzing from the freshness and newness of the experience we connected and planned to meet. A warm Los Angeles afternoon we sat down together sipping on iced chai and artisanal coffee’s and let the muse of music guide us in between tastes and truths. Sheila Ellis has the captivating presence that she easily possesses on stage. Long fine bones and taut glistening skin, in height alone she feels ethereal. Together she and Richard evoke their beginnings as partners in music/life and how natural the alignment came to be.
Her craft was incubated at Cal Arts as a dancer and undercover cantor. You can see in the grace of her movement that dancing is there, but more as the petals than the flower. Inside resonates a powerful voice and an octave range that not only turns a phrase but does it with style and artistry that will make you blush. Her eyes twinkle at the mention of Kate Bush and Minnie Riperton, they resonate. But she gently corrects that her true musical touchstones are Betty Carter and Roberta Flack. It doesn’t make any difference because her sound is unique original and captivating. She can stand on her own.
We talk about the dark places of the human mind and how she finds inspiration in abstract places. She is not afraid of the dark and calmly describes how music, poetry and dance have always kept her in balance. We talk about the tragedy that plagued so many great artists and she revealed that her price for passion and vision is demonstrated in feeling, even that which she would prefer not to feel.
The Cleansing is the groups sophomore album and in it you hear the maturation of the band as a cohesive voice. There is vision and visuals that help to root the soul of the ensemble in between the spaces of past and present.