It’s nice to hear a vocal jazz album that keeps it plain and simple, but not boring. That is what I would call I Will (Princess Monkey Music), the new album by jazz vocalist Ellynne Plotnick. The recording is plain and simple: Plotnick singing with guitar and bass accompaniment. It may bring to mind going into a coffee bar and just hearing the group with a bit of cups clingning and clanging, but you want everyone to shut up so you can hear the music. Seven of the ten songs on here are original compositions, and the title track, a Beatles cover, places the original song into a jazz style and shows why Paul McCartney‘s simple approach works in any musical context. Other highlights on this include “I’m Sorry (I Really Mean It This Time)”, and “I Want A Place In Your Heart”. With luck, you’ll find a place in your heart for Plotnick, her voice and music.
One look at the cover and I thought “well, this is yet another vocal jazz album” and at times I hesitate to listen because as I’ve explained many times before, most of the time it’s just not something I want to listen to ever. But what thrilled me about the pathway to her voice is how full her backing band sounds, and once she started to sing… let me just say that she didn’t need the thrill of the band to move me. Instead what I heard was someone who metaphorically said “thank you band, now it’s my time to shine”, and shine she does.
I’m speaking of Ellynne Plotnick, whose album Life Is Beautiful (Princess Monkey) is a remarkable listen from start to finish, because her voice is moving, powerful, and something you must here. She is indeed someone who sings jazz and pop, but she does so in a way where she doesn’t sound like a stereotypical jazz and pop singer. She’s not a showoff-y vocalist, someone who does a lot of vocal gymnastics only to fell over the initial “scooby-de-bweep bweep bweep”, in fact she’s not like that. I don’t know of chanteuse is the right world, or even loungy. I will say that Plotnick’s voice has a lot of character, whether it’s the sensuous side, the bold tones, or the simple fact that this lady can sing. What makes this even more appealing is the fact that she had a hand in all of the songs (taking full credit for 8 of the 10 songs, and co-writing the other two), so this isn’t someone who just loves jazz because her husband gave her money to enjoy her hobby. She sounds like someone who truly wants to explore this music with her fans and the world, and she does so in a way that shows how talented she is. Or at least partial talent, for I think she has a few surprises awaiting on future projects.