Helen Tzatzimakis,
(Final Touch, 2015)

Helen Tzatzimakis is a jazz singer from Greece who is breaking through internationally in a number of fields -- she plays out regularly in Greece and has won competitions in France. A Ph.D. candidate in modern Greek literature at the University of Athens, she has published two books of poetry and cut two jazz albums.

Her commitment to the academic world and to poetry might make her seem a dilettante, but one listen to Soulfully will dispel that feeling.

A quiet album, ballad centered, with international tunes, Soulfully lives up to its name. Accompanied only by piano, bass and trumpet, Tzatzmakiis relies on her voice to put over the songs, sung in Greek, English and French. There are no jazzy vocal stunts here, no melody-mangling, just classic songs sung straight. Her version of Willie Nelson's "Crazy," for example, simply presents the song, letting its lyrics speak for themselves, a fact that lets the sadness and despair of the song shine through like the sun breaking through the clouds.

What I really love, though, are the songs in languages I don't speak. Her vocal talents let me sense the mood of the song, creating the emotion in me that the words normally would. In all, Soulfully is a highly promising album that is complete and satisfying on its own while still hinting at greater things to come.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

6 February 2016

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