South African born singer/songwriter Jeri Silverman is cut from familiar cloth. The texture of her multi-faceted talents, however, differ enough that she deserves consideration as more than just another competent member of a particular musical school. She is working well within the same traditions established by iconic trailblazers like Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, but her music clearly draws from some of the same threads coloring albums from artists like Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, and Sarah MacLauchlan. Her latest release, an EP entitled Leaflike, does a good job of unintentionally revealing much of her musical DNA in a single word. There is a great deal of fragile humanity found in the work’s six songs, but there’s more than a smattering of the eternal as well.
Leaflike opens with the mid-tempo saunter of “Anywhere but Here”. The song initially sounds fragmentary, but listeners will soon realize that this song achieves its effects through accumulation rather than showing its hand at once. Synthesizer flourishes punctuate the track at critical points but never draw too much attention. Silverman’s vocals are fragile and deeply sensitive, but there’s an inner strength seeping out of her phrasing. The same is true on the EP’s second track, “G&A”. The song’s percussion starts off sounding sort of desultory, but it quickly becomes apparent that the backbeat intends on creating pockets of space in the song. Stylish guitar laces its way through the beats and more electronica peeks its way out from just beneath the music’s surface. “The Fever” elaborates more on the slinky groove hinted at in “G&A”. It also relies much more on a stripped back arrangement focused on keyboards and the rhythm section while Silverman lays down a relaxed vocal over the top.
“Rabbit” takes a distinctly different turn. It’s primarily centered on acoustic guitar and a surprisingly bluesy vocal from Silverman. As before, the arrangement meets its goals through an extended process rather than immediately revealing itself. The guitar work is unhurried and often quite elegant. Silverman’s cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Dreams” is dead on, but not because it offers up a carbon copy of the original. Silverman strips down the song to its essence and finds a vocal groove quite unmatched elsewhere on the EP. The same slinky elegance driving earlier songs like “G&A” and “The Fever” returns here and has a loose, confident grace. The EP’s title track closes the release. “Leaflike” follows the same acoustic slant heard on “Rabbit” with even greater sensitivity than before and Silverman meets its challenge head on with a delicately phrased singing performance that closes the release on an ideal note.
There’s quite a bit of depth to these songs, particularly in their imagistic lyrics, and their substantive musical qualities remain consistent across the board. Leaflike might be an EP but it hits listeners with the cumulative effect of a full length release. Silverman’s method of writing and recording, building atmosphere piece by piece, shows her clear artistic vision for its shape and sound. It works splendidly and offers tremendous promise for the future.
9 out of 10 stars.