So hearing that Workman helped helm the new sophomore album by Vancouver songstress Adaline immediately conjures up a certain vibe -- lots of melody, lush vocals, and rich keyboard textures come to mind. And while all those elements are certainly at play on 'Modern Romantics,' there's also a sleek electro feel to the lovelorn torch songs that make up the record.
The singer's path towards making such groove-oriented music was certainly a circuitous one -- the daughter of a minister, Adaline (born Shawna Beesley) grew up in suburban Toronto performing in a gospel-influenced troupe with her family, and wasn't exposed until much later to the pop sounds that eventually made an impact on her own artistry.
"I wanted to take a very European approach to the record," Adaline says of 'Modern Romantics,' which was recorded with Workman at Toronto's Canterbury Studios over four weeks, but then mixed twice and sent back for three separate revisions during mastering. While in the studio, Adaline and Workman kept referencing artists like Portishead, Goldfrapp, Bat for Lashes, and La Roux -- clearly a template for a certain sort of electro-pop allure.
Melding danceable synths with a decidedly noir sensibility seems to be paying off for the rising diva -- tracks from 'Modern Romantics' been featured on television shows like '90210' and 'Ringer.'
While the more dramatic approach of most of the songs on 'Modern Romantics' do serve to showcase Adaline's powerful pipes, it's when she reins in the theatrics that the emotional quality of her tunes makes the most impact.
'Say Goodbye (I Won't Even)' may lack the big, shiny production of most of the rest of the album, but its sputtering bassline and hushed, sensual vocal get closest to the kind of musical touchstones Adaline and Workman seem to be aiming for. Sure, she can't resist throwing in a grand vocal flourish towards the end, but it works as a nice counterpoint to the restraint of the rest of the melody.
Equal parts sad and sultry, 'Say Goodbye' is the kind of dark ballad the piano songstresses of yesteryear (think Sarah McLachlan or Tori Amos) used to trade in -- Adaline takes that template and gives it her own new spin. Perhaps the title of her album is rather apt, after all.