February 17, 2007

Adriana Evans ‘El Camino’ Out March 12th on Expansion Records

AdrianaEvans.jpgAdriana Evans also known as Adriana Madera, is not just a beautiful face. She is truly a one of a kind artist, the likes of which have not been seen since Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan. She is the daughter of jazz recording artist Mary Stallings, who sang with Count Basie, Dizzie Gillespie and Cal Tjader. Adriana was raised in the Haight Ashbury and Mission District of San Francisco. Exposed early in life to the sounds of jazz and blues by her mother and also the explosive sounds of Afro Cuban music from her father's culture she was destined to be a musical sponge. Her love for soul, rock and hip hop added more to her rich musical tapestry.

When she was a freshman in college she befriended the aspiring rapper Dred Scott. This chance encounter led her to collaboration on his 1994 A&M records release Breaking Combs. Just one year later she and Dred wrote and recorded her debut self titled album on Capitol records. A political shake up at Capitol landed Adriana and the record on RCA/Loud Records. The album was thought to be somewhat revolutionary. It was the first so called "Neo Soul record" at the time. The use of live instrumentation combined with the classic sound of Adriana's vocals took a lot of people off guard. When you think about the musical landscape in 1995, you understand that this album was extremely groundbreaking. It was completely devoid of the synthetic mechanical sounds and stacked vocal stylings of music from that era. Yet this is typical for Adriana, who always finds herself ahead of the curve.

After the release of her first album she became disenchanted with the politics of music. She travelled the world finding an unlimited source of creative inspiration. She spent much of her time in Latin America feeling at home in the relaxed musically enriched environment. Brazil became a home away from home for her spiritually and musically. Upon her return to the US she began assembling her second record Nomadic. This was a project that she and longtime collaborator Dred Scott really enjoyed. It is an eclectic reflection of her musical journey. Nomadic incorporates the sounds of Latin, rock, soul, jazz, blues and hip hop. It reflects the variety of manifestations of black music in the Americas. She states, "Africans came to North America, South America and the Carribean via the slave trade and through some sort of alchemy turned pain into beauty. They gave the world their music!" Nomadic honors their remarkable contributions.

Her new CD, El Camino blends the familiar sounds of her first recording with the growth of her second CD. The musical emphasis of this work is based more on the soul tradition yet it still has eclectic elements that reflect Adriana's unique perspective. The title "El Camino" means the road or path in Spanish. This CD is about Adriana's overall journey, starting from the beginning of her career to the present. El Camino is a path that brings Adriana back to the source and beyond. It is released on 12th March 2007.

AdrianaEvans_ElCamino.jpgHere is what the British music publication "Blues & Soul" had to say abouth this new album: “Whether she likes it or not, just as long as Adriana Evans keeps making music like this she will continue to be categorized as “neo-soul”. If we were to attempt definition of said genre we might talk about organic music, real instrumentation, meaningful lyrics and committed vocals. You’ll find all that here but what makes El Camino different to say the neo soul of Dwele and India Airie is the lightness and joy in the music. This album seems to float on an air of optimism, which might be explained by the singer’s love affair with Brazil – a country we’re told, where despite economic hardships, life seems fresher and freer. Indeed Latin rhythms provide the overriding flavour of the album which opens with the gentle bossa of “Hey Now”. However, “Blue Bird In Bahia” and the title track offer the most overt Brazilian feeling – both with luscious Jobim style guitar. But Ms. Evans, remember, has family roots in jazz and “Blue Bird” and “Same As Ever I Was” have a great loose jazz feeling to them while “World On Fire” is just a great soul groove. For my sins, I found myself going back to “All For Love” – chiefly ‘cos the brass stabs reminded me of vintage Bacharach. In truth though, this isn’t an album of one-off tracks. Here we’re talking about an organic sound that develops though the 12 songs. “El Camino”, the notes say, means “path”. I’d always thought it meant more of a pilgrimage – a spiritual journey if you would… and there's lots of spirituality here, and to me spirituality equates with soul.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at February 17, 2007 2:05 PM