A woman in a beautiful, flowing white gown stands against the trunk of a tree, the wind gently brushing up against her. She is Monique Angele, and this is the first frame of the music video for her new single “Hold On,” from the much-anticipated album Alive. We soon find her lying in bed, solemnly dispensing one soft verse after another, and then sitting before a grand piano, crooning with a confident swagger that penetrates our screens and grips us no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Like much of Alive, “Hold On” is a picture window into the sublimely pristine songcraft that Monique Angele has made her own, and while it’s perhaps the most radio-friendly interpretation of her broadminded approach to songwriting, it’s by no means the only reason to give her new album a spin this winter. I had the pleasure of sampling from Alive and its six gilded tracks recently, and was more than satisfied with what I found in each and every harmony they had to offer.
This record is very balanced aesthetically and shows off different sides of Angele’s personality exquisitely and without ever focusing on one aspect of her creative profile over another. Tracks like “I Want a World” and “Rare Girl” sport vibrant mixes that shake us to the very core of our being and exploit the tremendous skillset of Angele for every drop of melodicism that it’s worth. The bright and charming “Our Paradise” cascades from the speakers on the whim of an eager piano harmony, only to be corralled by our lead singer in a fragile opening stanza that wisps through the air like the gentle breeze that first greeted us in the video for “Hold On.” From start to finish, Alive is tightly packaged but generous with Angele’s vocal track, which consistently stands out like a burning beacon atop an ancient lighthouse, guiding us through even the most melancholic of storms and into the safety of her swarthy major key catharsis. It’s no overstatement to say that this is one of the most exciting records to debut in 2019 so far, and though I had high expectations for its content, I was completely taken aback by how well-rounded it is in every sense.
I really love the sound that Monique Angele has cultivated for herself, and I can’t wait to see what she does with it next in the wake of Alive. She dishes out some of the sultriest lyrical admissions in pop in the brooding “Forever Strong,” the aching “Pink Coloured Sky” and star centerpiece “Hold On,” and I think that while she demonstrates a lot of prowess in the studio on this disc, she’s nowhere near plateauing artistically. She’s at the forefront of one of the more complicated and cerebral generations of artists that modern mankind has known, and for my money, soulful pop music just doesn’t get much better than what she produces here. She’s made a fan out of me for sure, and once you get a taste of Alive, I’m sure she will you as well.
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