Monique Angele returns with new record Alive featuring both classical and pop elements that help bring her music up to the next level.
It’s always good when you find an artist that’s passionate and brave enough to follow their own sound, rather than following the crowd and creating something generic. Monique is one of those artists, with each song on new record Alive jumping headfirst into raw emotions on a backing of classical and pop connotations. Her previous EP Answers was a slow burner, but Alive changes things around and throws you into her world of passion, complexity and strong melodies.
Pink Coloured Sky and its pop/classical nuances hit you right from the very start with gentle piano set against Monique’s soft and sensual tones, working in perfect harmony. Drums arrive out of knowhere to change the vibe and feel of the track completely which works well and sets up for the rest of the record. The chorus lifts up the piece and takes it further into pop territory as the track progresses.
Our Paradise is fast-paced with up-beat piano set against sombre vocals, sounding like something Disney would love to use for one of their animations about a princess – maybe for the next frozen movie? Once again the drums creep in to change the feel of the song and keep things interesting, with Monique’s vocals getting stronger and more technical as the track thunders on.
Forever Strong is the first truly empowering ballad based around being yourself and not caring what anyone else wants in order to be free. There are hints of the 80s and a gentle comparison to Annie Lennox in Monique’s voice as she takes the track by the scruff of the neck and pulls along the melody. It’s soulful, emotional and empowering. An album highlight.
Rare Girl’s melodies are among some of the strongest on the album, with no need for anything else apart from vocals and piano. This shows off Monique’s skills in songwriting, and that she can do both simplicity and technical pieces in equal measure. Reflection and hope are the main themes in this track, which are also carried over into the soulful Hold On, with its Kate Bush connotations and penchant for mercilessly changing the direction of the track at the drop of a hat.
Alive is an impressive album, able to bring both classical and pop elements together is a seamless fashion where others have failed. The underlying soul elements on some of the tracks work really well to create a theme, with Monique throwing her whole self into every song and tailoring it to her inner thoughts, whether it be hope and passion, or depression and love. The songs and melodies are strong enough to shine through on their own merits, rather than be covered over by layers of instrumentation, which is credit to strong songwriting and not falling into the trap of overproduction suffered by many. Monique should be proud of what’s been created here and expect to have a bright future, if Alive is anything to go by.
By Jamie Parmenter