Lili Anel
Dream Again (Wall-I) 9/10

A tremendous talent who honed her chops alongside Greenwich Village folk stalwarts Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin, Lili Anel returns with her third and best recording after a five-year hiatus. Possessing a singular, smoky-sounding vocal style that falls somewhere between Joan Armatrading (Anel covers Armatrading's "Down to Zero" here) and Nina Simone (especially on "Life or Death"), Anel's recent move to Philly yielded a collaboration with fretless-bass player Cooke Harvey, who helped co-helm an extraordinary album that might be just a bit bass-heavy. Anel's voice and phrasing are too extraordinary to be given anything less than centerstage. Her highly personalized lyricism shows added depth from past recordings, whether it's in the samba-like "Over You" or the snappy-edged light funk of "Temporary Amnesia." Elsewhere, Anel incorporates songs about her faith (the hypnotic "Life or Death" and gorgeous hit-written-all-over-it "If God Had a Wallet") that never come off preachy, with the latter existing on the same plane as Joan Osborne's "One of Us." Dream is a fabulous, rock-solid gift of exquisitely penned and sung songs. This deserves to be a commercial hit. - Skitch Mulligan

(Reproduced from the original article printed 4/5/07)