Bio for Siân Elen (Pronounced Shan Ellen)
Siân Elen is a singer songwriter from the West Coast of Canada. Her music could be described as “acoustic light bluesy jazz” OR “jazzy bluesy folk”. The arrangements on her debut CD “Float”are refreshingly simple, yet sophisticated. The song lyrics are thoughtful and evocative. Her style has been compared to Joan Armatrading, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman, Sarah Harmer, and Margo Timmins.
Siân Elen has been song writing for years, but only recently embarked on recording her creations and sharing them with the world. She studied piano and voice as a child, but guitar is her current song-writing instrument of choice. She likes to play around with altering chord voicings and progressions, which gives her songs an understated jazzy feel.
Her singing style has been influenced by such singers as Bonnie Raitt and Marcia Ball, which gives it more of a bluesy bent than a formal jazz one.
Siân Elen performs locally in her hometown of Victoria B.C. She is usually accompanied by percussionist Brad Hawkes who plays a number of hand drums and shakers, but primarily the cajón –a unique “box” drum that sounds like a mellow drum kit. Talented Joey Smith on his growling double bass propels the songs on “Float” along while grounding and balancing out the ethereal timbre of Siân Elen’s voice.
CD SINGLE REVIEW: Sian Elen - “Power Over Me”
By Gian Fiero - 11/13/2009 - 12:58 PM EST
Artist: Sian Elen
Genre: Acoustic folk/blues/jazz
Sounds Like: Joan Armatrading
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Single
Siân Elen is a singer/songwriter from the West Coast of Canada. Her emotive and engaging vocal style is what her brand of jazzy/bluesy/folk music requires. Like other phenomenal singer/songwriters such as Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman, and Bonnie Raitt, Siân’s lyrical content allows her to showcase the nuances and emotional dimensions of her voice. On this single, a song that’s really about emotional empowerment (relinquishing it, relishing the relinquishment, regretting it, and ultimately reclaiming it), she is at her finest. Serviceable as a radio single, the track is also ideal for music licensing in a major film.
Siân Elen is a delight to listen to and embodies the mantra “less is more.” Float, the singer/songwriter’s debut album, consists of little more than bass, handheld percussion and Elen’s pure, confident vocals. After just the first thirty seconds of the opening track “Power Over Me” a calming feeling of intimacy is achieved with the stripped down accompaniment and Elen’s clear voice. Percussionist Brad Hawkes is omnipresent throughout Float playing a variety of instruments, most notably the cajón, an Afro-Peruvian box drum. Though subtle, his playing adds a unique homely feel to every piece, including the bluesy “Move On” where his woodblocks accentuate the off beats of this toe-tapper.
When Elen gets deep and throaty, reminiscent of a serene Linda Perry, she never sounds harsh or gritty. In songs in a higher key and slightly slower tempo, Elen’s voice is more comparable to fellow Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan. However, Elen’s angelic voice sprightly wraps her vocals around smooth, weaving jazz melodies as opposed to pleading folk chants. She adds a tasteful splash of vibrato to her phrases and never drowns herself in perfect diction, but rather lightly washes over her lyrics.
All these admirable qualities run throughout all dozen original songs on Float. From a more traditional jazz stance, the major chord progressions and uplifting melody of “Here & Now” could have come straight off of Norah Jones’ second album Feels Like Home. However, the cool jazzy feel of “Neighbourhood,” with its walking bass line, vocal scatting in the coda and standard lyrics could have easily been sung by the classy Peggy Lee back in her heyday.
Elen maintains complete control of her voice and performs some neat vocal effects that enhance her lyrics in a clever, subtle way. The chorus to the title track is simply, “I’ll float….Yes I’ll flo – ooh – ooh – ooh – oat.” Every rise and fall of Elen’s vocals is a gentle bob over a small wave crest in a calm ocean. “Giddy-up Go Girl” also utilizes her voice in the chorus singing repetitiously “ai ai ai ai ai” like a cowgirl galloping through the night on her steed. This song features the double bass nicely filling in the gaps between verses and varies the tempo from medium to medium fast to go along with the gait of the cowgirl’s horse.
Finishing off this refreshing blend of tunes is an unaccompanied duet between Elen and her father, singing “Suo Gân (Sleep My Baby)” an old Welsh lullaby sung in its original tongue. With a lovely mixture of enchanting melodies and charming singing, Float is a satisfying pleasure to aurally partake and Elen should be commended for a fine debut.