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  • Cy White

Elmiene: El-Mean


What a fascinating vocal performance this is.

El-Mean is emotive, personal, lovely music that doesn’t insist on too much from the listener, but also invites the listener to experience something truly lovely.

Elmiene has a bit of Stokely in his tone, with Stevie Wonder lingering at the edges of his voice when he allows his delivery to get a bit lax at the back of the throat. “Why (Spare Me Tears)” leans a great deal into that Talking Book innovation, melding aspects of rock and heavy laying into the synthesizer to create a tonal dissonance between the softness of his voice and the heaviness of the composition.

Elmiene truly adds nuance and emotional depth to R&B, bringing it back to the weight of vocal brilliance and emotive innovation the genre had at one point been known for. Each track on El-Mean has a purpose and leaves an impression, never settling into a trope of what R&B appears to be to outsiders and newbies. Integrating elements of acoustic, psychedelic and certainly soul, Elmiene heads in a direction we’ve been waiting for in the genre for quite some time.

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