The striking sounds of guitarist/singer/songwriter Eliane Amherd take over the night air on her debut release Now and From Now On. It makes sense that the cover features the Swiss import applying lipstick, as this record is a stirring and often sexy ride.
Amherd has been amassing quite a series of credentials since arriving in New York. Marc Ribot hailed her as a “terrific guitarist” and he’s right. She melts styles with ease, playing through some beautiful Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian patterns while remaining couched in stunningly delicate jazz roots and full-blooded musicality.
Joining Amherd on the record are bassist Gustavo Amarante, percussionist Ze Mauricio, vibraphonist Bill Ware, and drummer Willard Dyson. The compositions found on Now and From Now On are Amherd originals with the exception of a Tom Waits cover (“Temptation”).
The record begins with a slab of thick, hot funk. The title track springs out, sounding a little like something Prince might be into. Gustavo’s bass kicks it into another groovy gear, while Amherd’s slinky rhythm guitar accents her vocal lines wonderfully.
“Don’t Give Up on Me” is a sensual, cool track. Amherd sings through a classic soul vibe, adding sweet touches of R&B with flutters of guitar.
Things head in a samba direction with “Let Me Explain,” a spicy track that makes great use of a funky jazz mood reminiscent of Sergio Mendes.
“Temptation” is largely constructed around Ware’s vibes. The darkness of Waits’ track takes on new meaning thanks to Amherd’s whispered, raspy vocals and dissonant guitar. It’s one of the most interesting and raw tracks on the record. The Swiss musician is hotter than hell over the crisp, cool arrangement. Check out how she offers up the line “I can’t resist” and make sure to crack a window to let some of the steam out. You’ll need the air.
A fascinating, sexy debut, Now and From Now On offers a lot to pay attention to. Eliane Amherd is the sort of performer that we’ll be hearing a lot more from if there’s any justice in the world.