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”Enchantée” by Marla Lewis

Making a jazz hook that sounds and feels original isn’t a very easy task in 2023, but for singer Marla Lewis, it seems to come quite naturally. In a song that can challenge her in the manner that befits someone of her talent level, Lewis claws away at some familiar beats and unapologetically confident lyricism, and in her all-new single ”Enchantée,” she takes on an intimate sonic adventure that sees her sounding more accessible than many of her rivals have in recent years. The invitingly-titled “Enchantée” doesn’t necessarily change the game for jazz as we know it, but it clarifies to us who its singer is as an artist and a performer. 

You can tell that Lewis’ heart is in this song from the jump; from her vocal tone to the pressurized harmonies that she conjures up with the instruments next to her, she’s making every element into an agent of evocation in “Enchantée,” and dispelling the mere idea of her being just another millennial songwriter with nothing more to give than lyrical lace and lavish grooves. She wants us to feel what she’s feeling here, and in packing all of her emotion into the understated components of the track, she unwaveringly keeps us on the edge of our seats for the several pleasing minutes it plays out. 

The verses in this single are very communicative and blunt, and I like the fact that Lewis didn’t wade into the murky waters of enigmas much as most of her closest competitors in the American indie underground would. She’s on-point with her narrative, decisive in the execution she uses, and emotive without falling back on tired metaphors of the most cringe-worthy kind, and nowadays, that’s unfortunately something that deserves to be celebrated as a positive oddity. 

Hearing “Enchantée” really makes me wonder what this young woman would sound like live because if even a fraction of the presence that she’s got in this track was to carry directly over to the stage, she could bring down the house with the right PA system to support her performance. She doesn’t seem like someone who wants to be the most virtuosic singer in her generation, but she certainly sounds like a player that is still growing into what she’ll ultimately become. She could take this music in any direction right now, but I hope that she keeps making groove-based material with as stirring a sway as we find here. 

Those who were anticipating another big single from the contemporary jazz scene before the spring season’s end will be very pleased with what they hear in “Enchantée,” which I found to be more than potent enough to silence even the most unpleasable of critics this April. In some ways, “Enchantée” poses as many questions about what Marla Lewis will do next as it does answer some of the queries we’d already had about her vocal depth in past releases, but if it’s a fair representation of what she’s going to be creating in the studio henceforth, it certainly won’t be the last time that I give her content a good review. 

Mindy McCall



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