Austin-based singer-songwriter and musician Seela is prepping for the release of a new album titled Cool. It drops on July 24th. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
According to her online bio, Seela was the child of “exhausted Indian immigrants on a mild, summer eve.” She “had an average childhood battling the forces of evil with her superhuman strength.” Her rockin’ resume reports the experienced performer is a veteran back-up singer. More importantly, she has five previous platters under her belt. She has always been very involved “in the recording process in the past.” While her career “has yet to lead to fame and fortune, opportunity, adventure, and delight have yet to cease.”
Seela’s signature sound is a mix of music genres. It includes folk, gospel, jazz, pop, and rock. Her music is inspired by such other artists as David Bowie, Steely Dan, Anita O’ Day, Heart, The Police, and Spoon to name a few. Other potential sources of subliminal inspiration include Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, U2, and Fozzie Bear.
Cool includes 13 original tracks. Here Seeka leads the way on acoustic guitar, keys, and lead vocals. She is backed by hubby Jon Greene (drums and percussion), her nephew Andrew Casile (electric guitar and vocals), Nathan DeLacretaz (pedal steel), Stephan Carolan (electric guitar), Daniel Thomas Phipps (vocals), Emily Gimble (piano, keys, and vocals), Wilson Marks (baritone and electric guitar), Robert Harris (electric guitar), Brian Beattie (accordion), and Andrew Pressman, Tom Pearson, and Micheal Archer (bass).
Track by Track
“Price” is the uplifting album opener. It is musically modest but nonetheless effective in gaining the listener’s attention.
The second selection is “Up2Me.” She continues to hold the listener’s attention with her blended, multi-genre signature sound.
“Shine” follows. Despite the lyrics, it does not seem to be genuinely autobiographical. It sounds sincere enough to be someone’s story though, at any rate. Dee Richardson provides the vocal outro here.
Seela’s “When The World” comes off as one of those songs she has been singing live for a couple of years. Much like the previous piece, she sounds like she’s really comfortable with the material.
Something about “Hiding Place” makes it sound radio-ready. Her signature sound remains solid. She slows things down a little with “Black Blackness.” The tune is delivered with such ease and confidence it is a pleasure to listen to it. Again, this truly sounds like another number she has been performing for a while. Maybe that’s part of her ability to make music that is new and yet somehow familiar.
“Before It Began” is another slow number. There is something bittersweet to it. You can hear something in her vocals that gives one the impression that it’s a personal piece. (If not, it certainly is well-practiced.)
Things get musically brighter on “Build A House” although the lyrics still refer to imperfections in life and the impact of the presence or absence of people in our lives. She literally whistles while she works here. (This one was built with a little help from Chris Vestre.)
“Take a Picture” has a lighter soundtrack feel to it. Indeed, that could be because, as Seela confirmed, the track was actually “inspired by the movie Photographing Fairies.” It’s got a nice song story feel to it.
The tenth track is the stand-alone song “Safety Blanket.” It’s an almost spiritual slow number that is nigh haunting. It’s exceptionally emotive.
“Bad At Good” follows here. It’s the first single and was chosen for an accompanying video. Seela discussed the song and video online. She said:
“I made this video on my iPad, frame by frame, with a small dog burrowed into my hip while avoiding doing online defensive driving. I like lyric videos and the way the song seems like it’s talking to you while you watch. She concluded: “I could sit on my couch and draw videos all day.”
She adds that this pretty ditty “was a song game assignment. I was given the title and built the song from there. I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. Wilson Marks’ solo is so beautiful. I hope you love it.”
The titular “Cool” comes next. It’s an upbeat cut that earns its honor as the title track. It certainly has a “hidden hit” sound to it. Why it is not the lead-in or closing cut is unclear but it works, so who cares?
The album endnote is “His Final Performance.” It provides a quieter close to the disc as well as one final effective example of what Seela and company can do.
Overall . . .
Overall, this album is her sixth release and features all original material. It is self-produced for a reason. It represents her music the way she wants it presented.
The CD is highlighted by gorgeous harmonies and a consistency in musical presentation. The songs here follow no thematic or musical style other than her desire to share an effective sample of the material she has composed over the past two decades. Nevertheless, the absence of a strong theme or focus on a specific genre or style adds a sense of spontaneity to the work that makes the project both welcomingly unpredictable and refreshing. So check out Seela’s Cool because it’s well worth worth the “Price.”