All Aglow Music (2022)
It's hard to know which to praise more on Lis Addison's album, Elements – her (as always) amazing voice, the flowing melodies, the catchy chilled rhythms, the intermixed world beat influences, or the overwhelming positivity of the lyrics. Tough choice, right? However, as this is Lis Addison were' talkin' 'bout, it's her voice, hands down. All the other aspects play a huge role in the fantastic end result, but it's Addison's siren-esque voice which swings from sultry to playful to comforting that takes Elements to the heights it achieves.
Elements is eight tracks of sublime music and beautiful vocals, with Addison singing both Sanskrit and English mantras. The respective tracks give thanks to (per the album one sheet)"…things we can’t live without but which we often take for granted; the Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Other elements, the Light of Love, the Green of Plants and the Wisdom to Choose Happiness can help us be joyful." Covid played a part in influencing Addison to record the album since all of humanity realized not just our interconnectedness, but also our base needs for survival, which are those listed above. Like so many other performing musicians, Lis also had to cancel several planned appearances in France, the United Kingdom, and Israel. So, when her muse came calling, Lis started recording. Elements is her fifteenth release.
It's unusual, from my perspective at least, to
find an artist in Addison's genre of chant/world fusion (and possessed of such
a beautiful voice) to be so adept at not just composing and performing music,
but also the expert application of electronics and rhythms. She plays everything
on the album and it's only her own voice (multi-tracked). Having found out that
Addison earned a Masters degree in electronic music, it's easy to see where
skill and talent with layering of keyboards comes from. She also produced the
album. Put all this together and I defy you to not be
While there is a lot of energizing music on Elements, it's never overpowering but it flows with a gentle sense of dynamism. While I do not practice yoga, I believe this would be great music for a routine, whether moderately active or some slower yoga movements as well, depending on which track one listened to. The opening "The Light of You" lights up the room with melodic rhythms and a delightful coquettish vocable (non-language specific open-vowel sounds) refrain under the main mantra. The sultry side of Addison's voice is featured prominently, swirling in the air like heady incense. Chilled beats come into play later in the song. "Breathing Green" is a superb slice of chill/lounge, mid-tempo percolating beats underneath some gorgeous multi-tracked vocals (English and Sanskrit mantras taking turns). The tempo of the beats increases on "Rhythm Of Earth" which pulses with primal energy (but, again, not overdoing it). Once again, Lis' use of wordless vocalizations (which are impossible to describe in words) is simply brilliant. "Mother Waters" shifts gears, but not distractingly so, as the song sways softly like a waltz or, I suppose a better analogy would like a stream flowing gently through the country. Her keyboard work here, on new age style bell tones, is exemplary! "Sister Wind" features her piano proficiency more front and center and the higher energy level derives not from any beats, but the natural fast tempo of the melody itself. "Horizon Line" probably comes the closest to more of a "pure" world fusion sound, owing to an assortment of ethnic percussion, e.g. tabla (actually featured on other tracks, too). Lis melds chill-out and world beat for the album closing "Choose Happiness," ending Elements with a strong note of positivity and an injection of joyous energy.
An artist possessed of amazing vocals and equally excellent musicianship working in conjunction with outstanding production, engineering/mixing, and flawless mastering (see credits for the latter two below), almost always results in a masterpiece. That's what Lis Addison delivers on Elements. But, more than that, during these trying times, we could all use with more comfort, peace, and, well, more hugs. When listening to Elements maybe consider it as a virtual hug from not just an amazingly talented artist, but a wonderful person as well. Bravo, Lis, bravo!
Composed, performed and produced by Lis Addison
Mixed by Ben Leinbach and Nicco Alifano
Mastered by Chris Kritky
Cover Art - Dean Foster
Photo by MJ Hurtado