No Deal

No Deal

Melanie De Biasio has been called the Billie Holiday of Belgium. Yet a quick survey of the singer’s second album (and first in seven years) reveals that comparison to be a stylistic leap—there aren't the type of blues tunes or conventional jazz arrangements that made up much of Holiday’s material beyond “Strange Fruit.” Instead, this slow, careful music has a dark, mysterious sound that recalls Portishead’s menace and This Mortal Coil’s ambient grandeur. De Biasio plays the femme fatale whose cool and hypnotic vocal delivery isn't unlike Abbey Lincoln or Nina Simone—she wonderfully covers the latter's “I’m Gonna Leave You”—where vocal trills and inflection carry as much impact as the words themselves. She's at her finest on “The Flow” and the title track, whose final instrumental run-out only adds to the song’s impact. “With All My Love” slows the tempo to a glacial pace as eerie electronics add much drama to this unsettling finale. An album clocking in at only 33 minutes, No Deal is a work wholly realized in its dark, textured vision.

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