In the barely-established but growing genre of “retro contemporary pop,” there is room for variation and experimentation, recently exemplified by a collaboration between Norah Jones and Danger Mouse. Woodstock, NY chanteuse Adrien Reju follows that lead with her latest EP, The Lucky Ones, teaming up with producer Jack Dishel (Moldy Peaches, Only Son). Reju was already known for blurring the boundaries of folk, jazz, pop, country and nostalgia with her own unexpected but enticing melodic signatures, yet this newest work takes her evolution one step further.
The Lucky Ones opens with the quiet immediacy of “All to Myself.” Once in a great, great while, a song comes along that says exactly what it needs to by every facet—in lyrics, melody, delivery and its very arrangement. “All to Myself” is one such song. Reju captures obsession, longing, insecurity and brashness in all these aspects, and the end result is perfection. Her voice is deceptive. Very smooth, quiet and effortless at times, unexpectedly strong at others, yet always distinctive and accessible. The title track and “In Too Deep” display moments of technical vocal prowess. Reju is also an excellent guitarist, but her playing is often softened in deference to her voice.
“Crazy” is not a cover of the famous Patsy Cline song, though it could be its kid sister. It’s almost a little too traditional for this EP, but repeated listens reveal rewarding nuances in its structure, thanks to Dishel’s contributions. Co-writing the songs, the producer also lent his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, providing some electronic touches that present a departure from Reju’s previous work. The five short songs on this release will leave fans famished for more and wondering what her next step will be.