Eleanor Tallie – No Turning Back
Debuts aren’t supposed to be this good. There are supposed to be flashes of greatness, even from the biggest talents, and a little bit of fumbling in the dark searching for their future sound. Israeli-born Eleanor Tallie, however, emerges on her debut EP No Turning Back, as a fully formed talent with the expressiveness and artistic instincts of a much older singer and artist. Some expected things happen. Tallie’s youthfulness and PR demands lead her to insist that the music contained herein is her style, “neo-funk”, a presumed mashup of soul, funk, and blues into a greater than the sum of its parts whole. Young artists always look for ways to promote themselves and stand apart. Tallie stands apart from the pack on her debut because she’s so developed, so finished as a superb purveyor of blues, funk, and R&B, traditional American musical forms, that it’s actually a little frightening and baffling to imagine where she can go from here.
“Hell and Heaven” is a shattering opener. Tallie later reveals here capable of handling any tempo with the same attention to detail, but she’s arguably most impressive on this energetic romp. Despite the precise and forceful pace, she enunciates well and works in a great deal of nuance. The grinding progression and muscular drumming help drive the emotional point all the deeper home. “I Tried” is, easily, No Turning Back’s hookiest effort and arguably a stylish stab at radio play. If it is, the airplay is well deserved. Slowburn blues and R&B rarely comes better than this and with the same memorable crescendos. The EP’s next track, “Sunlight”, is a much more sedate and moody compositions benefitting from performances that completely understand the song’s emotional heart. It’s, likewise, the EP’s most obvious soul number. Tallie tempers her customary bluesy spirit in favor of a laser-hot focus on her phrasing.
The jaunty bass and quasi-shuffle backbeat are the fluid engine room for “My Present”, but the song wouldn’t succeed as well as it does without Tallie’s multiple voices, double tracked vocals, and willingness to listen closely to the music bubbling around her. The guitar adds much, but never comes on in a heavy-handed way. “Gotta Be Happy” is cut from the same slowburn cloth as the EP’s earlier tracks, particularly “I Tried”, but it extends itself much further and, thus, provides larger rewards for the listener. Tallie’s vocal, most of all, will leave quite the impression on anyone who hears it. The EP’s last song “A Real Man” has much more musical and vocal bite than many of the earlier songs, but the same stylishness informing so much of No Turning Back never deserts her here.
This is a resounding opening statement to a career that will likely continue for many years. When we look back in ten or twenty years, No Turning Back will stand as a reminder of the talents that elevated her from the beginning. This is a fantastic effort from first song to last.
9 out of 10 stars.