The Jade Element

Album Review: The Jade Element
By Peggy Oliver

Anthony Molinaro, Alfred
Howard and Rebecca Jade are more than well acquainted with each other
through their work with several San Diego based bands. Molinaro and Jade
worked alongside the soul/jazz band Super Magnetic, while Howard was
the rapping front man with the K23 Orchestra. Pooling all their musical
resources after years of experience sharing many stages in the same
city, the trio eventually decided to join forces to birth yet another
band. Their unique journey began about a year ago in Molinaro’s
recording studio. The results are a fascinating mix of neo-soul, gospel,
jazz, pop and rock rolled up in a sonically infused package. Dubbed The
Jade Element, inspired by lead singer Rebecca Jade’s namesake, the trio
releases their self-titled and self-released debut disc. This ten-track
excursion might remind those of the popular trip-hop duo from the
nineties, Portishead.  Yet with The Jade Element, there is a more
soulful substance. Jade’s elastic vocals and Howard’s poetic
contributions are supported by Molinaro’s funky electronic beats and
bass lines and colorful atmospheric backdrops augmented by sometimes
innovative orchestrations.
“Carried Away” and
“Back and Forth” swims in lush strings, electric piano and glittering
guitars but sprinkled with neo-soul savoir faire. There are plenty of
shifting percussive shades from Molinaro and Michael Atesalp that
attractively frames “Hour Glass.” But where The Jade Element starts to
gain full steam is on the latter tracks; thanks to Jade
reaching further into her vocal bag of tricks. “Time Never Met (With Its
End)” begins with a lullaby-like acoustic piano before kicking over
into drum and bass mode. Murky keyboards, sitar and gospel choir may be
an unconventional recipe, but those qualities on “Tomorrow” perfectly
match Jade’s vocal personality. The Jade Element takes a stab at
experimentation with “Escape,” where Jade hovers between a neo-soul vibe
and alternative rock. Blues, R&B and gospel collide on the closing
piece “River Runs Deep” with a rousing finale from Jade and the
background vocalists.
After several listens of The
Jade Element, the musicality is quite evident and bold. Yet the soulful
tidbits from Jade on the first half — even though they have an
inviting cool factor to them — are a bit too reserved. Thankfully she
lets loose towards the end making The Jade Element a decently worthwhile
year long investment from some hard working musicians representing San
Peggy Oliver

The Urban Music Scene     

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