Lara Antebi is an impressive woman. On her debut full-length release Skin Collection, the Montreal native is credited with playing no less than five different instruments including singing, keyboard, guitar, saxophone and melodium (that’s how she spells it, so that’s how I’m spelling it). She is also credited with recording, producing and mixing, and she even drew the freaking album art. It’s a mouse trapped underneath a pair of glasses. It’s cute, but also kind of sad, just like a lot of the songs on the record. Most of them work very well, with a focus on strong singular vocal melodies and a style that hops back and forth between country, jazz and pop.
It begins with the swagger heavy “Jeanie” about an abusive lover who “knows what you desire,” “wants to light your fire,” and “always knows best.” “Voodoo Doll” is a big western show number that builds to dizzying heights after its very sweet vocal and acoustic introduction. It also makes expert use of wind chimes, a trope sorely undervalued in our modern music landscape. “It’s Not Easy” splits itself between French and English and tells a Romeo and Juliet-styled story of two lovers from opposite sides of the language barrier. “Emily” has a big emotional chorus that would make Martina Mcbride proud. “Nothing” may be the best song all around, the sprinkled saxophone give it a classy shine and really help embolden the vocals.
There are also a couple of misses. “Take You There” starts off with a simple but forgettable blues lick, and ultimately the chorus falls flat. Similarly, while “American Nightmare” is a neat look at how to make both a personal and a political statement in the same song, the national anthem-styled outro feels very out of place on this otherwise very focused collection. There are also a few aesthetic problems. Some of the vocal takes feel like they aren’t as strong as they could have been, and some of the drumming – particularly cymbal entries – feel a little bit too loose. My complaints are very minor though, and I will definitely be listening to this album a few more times, as with each subsequent listen I discover something new
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson