‘In a Little While’, the debut single released earlier this year by Melbourne vocalist, Maxi Vauzelle gave us a taste of what was to come. A quite irresistible piece of pop-soul, ‘In a Little While’ balanced old school and nu-soul flavours nicely with Vauzelle’s voice standing out immediately to the ear as one to watch.

‘In a Little While’ sits right in the middle of Vauzelle’s new EP, MAXI – five tracks (well, four and a bit) of soul that is thankfully not too serious – drawing together elements of 70s disco, gospel and synth-pop to make a truly original whole.

Maxi Vauzelle – who goes by the hip contraction of Maxi – has teamed with producer Joel Witenberg to hone these tunes, written in her parent’s attic over the summer of 2011/12, into what we hear on MAXI. Using a core of smart musos (check guitarist Adam Starr’s Earth-Wind-&-Fire horn arrangements on ‘For Me’) and some nice production imagination (the thinned out percussion under the lush vocal harmony on ‘In a Little While’ is sharp and effective), Witenberg has framed Maxi’s songs and stand-out voice perfectly.
The informal opener, aptly called ‘Intro’ weaves gospel voices over a finger-popping background, intertwining and blending into church harmony before the jungle drums of ‘From The Start’ take us to Motown. Perfect groove, Stax-soul horns, neat hook.

The single, ‘In a Little While’ keeps the standard up, warmed up this time with the smoulder of vintage synths. Disco mover, ‘For Me’ (with those tasty horns) has a mirror-ball vibe that should earmark it for the next single (or my next party).

EP closer, the moody ‘Heaven Helped You Down’, a minor key torch anthem with cinematic thunder drums shows Maxi’s flawless vocal harmonies – used richly throughout the five tracks – to great effect; stacked four or five voices high, they create a wall, a curtain, a river of sound wherever Witenberg uses them. It is a mark of Witenberg’s taste (and soul-smarts) that ‘Heaven Helped You Down’ never boils over but aches through to the end.

Very nice – I am taken with that balance of production, as we heard recently on Adele’s omnipresent world-beater 21, of a lush treatment that still manages to have the immediacy of a band playing for you in a room. Maxi’s vocal is also reminiscent of Adele’s – not the sometimes too-pushed power of the British singer, but the warmth and nuance that goes back to soul’s golden period. What Maxi adds is the sass of disco-divas such as Alicia Bridges and Gloria Gaynor. As I said, one to watch.

Maxi’s website is here.


Published September 2012 on theorangepress.net






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