It is tempting to call this EP a soundtrack to the coffee shop, that most urban of phenomenons, but not all is not what it seems in the tapestry of song that makes up Sami Stevens’ “Melting Point” EP. I suppose too that I was as guilty as everyone else of assuming that her understated presence identified her as a mere practitioner of that most anodyne of musical art forms known generally as smooth jazz.
However, should your mind be as given to concentrating on matters of music as mine should be, you might find yourself wondering exactly what has cast a spell on your ears. Sami Stevens’ voice is cultured and precise yet never seems, on initial acquaintance at least, to have that all important individuality although it is, in truth, the clinical roundness that she brings to a song that induces an onslaught of curiosity. This isn’t smooth jazz at all and her apparent inoffensiveness is no more than a feint.
Her supporting players, to their credit, are relaxed, if sometimes a touch clumsy, but unafraid of moving the tempo up or down in pursuit of her meandering voice. Sami Stevens, front and centre, leads them forever forward as if there are matters of great import to be conveyed in each and every song and, as in all great art, all words are motivated by matters of the heart. The album’s highlight, “Tell me A Secret”, sways in the moonlight of obsession much as you might expect of a song in the chanson style while the casual darkness of “I Should Love You” is so stylised that it could be seen as the very antithesis of corporate click trackers like Diana Krall.
In the final analysis, all music, regardless of genre, relies on passion for power and Sami Stevens and her cohorts manage an entirely convincing demonstration of the very thing that makes all our hearts beat a little faster. She is an intelligent performer not afraid to push herself out of the safety zone and I am sure that more will be heard from her.