I was introduced to Michelle Amador’s voice on the 2006 Rainbow Soul compilation and became reacquainted on Phuturistix’ 2007 album Breathe Some Light. Her voice and control over its intonations really made an impression on me then, and I was highly determined to hear new music from her. Two years later I get my wish with the release of her new album, Higher. Her bio describes her as an electronic/acoustic singer, and those styles are presented on Higher, but what stands out to me is the jazzy way she sings. This comes from an extensive jazz background; she learned to play piano at the age of 6 and went on to study with critically acclaimed jazz musicians. Michelle’s voice is truly the stand out on this album; even when singing in another language (Madrina) and placed against some great musicians that could easily overshadow a novice, her voice excels.

In addition to her great voice, Michelle has some really great producers and live musicians on Higher. They take many genres and merge them together to create a sound that sounds great around its vocalist. There are some songs that bear a resemblance to jazz and electronic tunes, but it’s the others that are a merging of those 2 genres and more that prevent this album from becoming monotonous. Take for example, In and Out, with its hip hop feel and Dilla-esque hand clap snares (reminiscent of Bahamadia’s One4teen) or the bouncy feel of Because of You. It’s these tracks that create a contrast between more traditional tracks like the jazzy R&B soul of Prayer For the Confused or the broken beat of Eager For the Years.

Of the 11 tracks on Higher, 3 were on previous releases. However, this in no way detracts from the work as a whole. Higher, with Michelle’s insightful lyrics will definitely take you there; higher. Pop this one in and get prepared for the journey…

DJ Rahdu gives Higher 6.5 out of 7 Headnods

Release Date: May 25, 2009 Exclusive advance through iTunes: May 11, 2009

Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.