Old Skool Album Review (Revisted) : Ivana Santilli’s Brown

30 Jul

This was an album review I had did 6 years ago on for a site called  For those who don’t know Ivana Santilli, she is a gifted and talented artist from the Toronto who was famous for being in the Toronto band; “Bass is Base” back in the day.  I felt nostalgic and thought I would repost this album review.   Ivana herself read it and thanked me dearly (which I still smile up to this day.)

Ivana Santilli is no stranger in the Toronto R&B soul scene. In 1994 she was part of a well-known Toronto soul group Bass is Base consisting her and two other members whose debut album ‘First Impressions for the Bottom Jigglers’ was nominated for a Juno Award for R&B Soul. After disbanding, Ivana Santilli continued her musical path with her 1999 debut solo album ‘Brown’. This album truly showcases Ivana Santilli’s talents. Besides her vocals, she also plays a majority of the instruments on this album including rhodes, piano and trumpets (which you can hear nostalgically on ‘Too Deep’). ‘Brown’ begins with a brief intro of Ivana playing on the rhodes (ironically titled “Oh the Rhodes again.”) Ivana then opens her book to her listeners of her thoughts, passions, questions and desires that are backed up by smooth soulful beats. In‘Too Deep’ (which was her first single from this album) Ivana ponders to her listeners with questions such as “Have you ever lived your life half asleep? Tell me am I getting too deep?” ‘Never Again’ tells a story of Ivana who puts all her energy into a relationship but does not get anything in return. Ivana then decides to show how much she loves her lover in a duet “If I ever fall” with Glenn Lewis, Ivana even gives her listeners an Italian 101 on her groove song “Nostalgia”. She closes her chapter with “More of myself” with a soothing song as she croons to her listeners “I can say no more, but I can show you less, less of my clothes but so much more myself” ‘Brown’ is a classic example of how good production, a very talented artist, superb backing and good lyrics can lead to a top notch album. The versatility of sounds within this album is huge driving factor. ‘Sun+Moon=Tomorrow’ (the album’s second single release) starts of with a fast drum beat similar to what is heard in the ending of The Roots’ critically acclaimed song “You Got Me”. It is then intertwined with rhodes being played added with a nice driving bass. ‘Too Deep’ provides a Latin/French/Jazz kind of feel with trumpets sounding softly in the background. Ivana even decides to surprise her listeners with a part two version of “If I Ever Fall.” In which, halfway through breaks into a Brazilian drum beat with her on the keyboards and exchanging adlibs and words with Glen Lewis. Another strong factor with Brown is the consistency with her music. Even though she experiments with different styles of beats and grooves (as what is heard in ‘Too Deep’, ‘Sun+Moon=Tomorrow’ and ‘If I ever fall Part Two)’ she still maintains that soulful smooth sound, which unfortunately a few R&B soul artists tend to loose when they start to experiment with different sounds on their albums. You’ll be guaranteed that after listening to this album, you will start to think “Am I really getting too deep?”
Five out of Five Stars
Dwight Barrett [Just Soul]


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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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