~ via J. Miranda
Many styles combine in Under the Apple’s haunting tunes…but invariably, they create an inviting canvas for debut artist Heather Marie Philipps’ sensuous vocals. I hear hints of jazzy Cassandra Wilson, feeling-saturated Radiohead, breath-carressing Joss Stone, and delicately-poignant David Sylvian.
I would classify this album in the soft-jazz milieu. “To Remember You” and the Miles Davis tinged “clear blue sky” certainly veer in that direction. That said, the songs that deviate from the readily-classifiable format moved me the most. My favorite is “Love Blind.” Gorgeous melody. The band backs Heather up tastefully, with a nice, driving beat; thick, syrupy timbres that wonderfully compliment her vocal quality. Echoes of Fiona Apple and Lizz Wright.
“Courting Stars” accentuates the sensual in Heather’s voice, as she trades licks with the stand-up bass. The odd-time passages in the middle are a welcome surprise, bringing a lop-sided roll to the end of the chorus. Sweet.
The instruments in “Snow Fell” lay down a melancholy background that allows the space for her voice to soar. Driven by a mysterious and moving string ensemble and a graceful electric piano counterpoint, this track sinks into a mystifying white, wintry landscape, where the only sounds are softly falling snowflakes. “Under the Apple” has a similar quality, a sparse universe of subtle tones that fall like rain as we walk with Heather on autumn leaf-strewn streets.
These songs possess elegant tensions, originality and a seeming frailty that falls away to reveal power in the subtle.