December 2020 Artist of the Month Kris Angelis


Kris Angelis is a Florida native who now lives in Los Angeles, where she is an actress and singer/songwriter. Her EP, That Siren, Hope, debuted last January on iTunes, but didn’t make its way to me until October because who the hell uses iTunes anymore? It’s still hanging around the Billboard charts because: (a) It’s really good, and (b) Covid has put a lot of new projects on hold.


Let’s focus is on the it’s-really-good part by starting with the title track. It encapsulates the theme of nearly all of the songs on the album and all I can say is, I hope Angelis hasn’t been as unlucky in love as her lyrics suggest: Thought that shine was a lighthouse/But it was that Siren, Hope/She sang me to sleep/She got me to dream/Turns out her song was just a joke. This song sums up some of the album’s potholes on Relationship Road tales, but it should be said that it has a different musical vibe. It opens with muted guitar bass notes and voice before evolving into an evocation of old-time country music as it might have been sung by a hybridized Connie Smith/Connie Francis clone. (The video is slightly different than the version  got.)


Most of the rest of her music is in a pop folk vein, with Angelis’ twin sister, Alix, adding harmonies. Angelis prefers to simplify things, which is what one should do when a song is dependent upon a clear voice to communicate emotional impact. “Brighter Blue” is a good example of how Angelis has a knack for being inside a melody rather than outside trying to pry it open. She comes at us from the quiet side, but notice how easily she can air out her voice. It’s a fine song marred only by whoa-ooh-ooh-ahh studio harmonies that have become passé and cliché in indie rock. Not needed!


That bump aside, Angelis demonstrates her versatility with two different versions of “Ghost (I’m Alive and Breathing),” the first acoustic and the second with a band. On the acoustic version, she’s a delicate songbird. She ratchets the pace ever so slightly for the ensemble version and sings with more force, as she must within the mix. Both are lovely, and Angelis adds subtle vocal ornaments that embellish but never overwhelm. For the record, it’s about ghosting as in being ignored by an ex-partner, not the incorporeal variety. I prefer the acoustic version, but that’s because I’m a folky at heart. Listen and take your pick. (But why not both?)


Angelis returns to love gone off track on “I Hope I Never Fall in Love Again,” a title that says it all and is wrapped in a pretty song with a waltz-like rhythm. “If I Can’t Have What I Want” oozes painful yearning. The link to the title is: Then I’ll want nothing at all/If I can’t have you. “Misplaced Hope” isn’t the album’s concluding track, but maybe it should be. It’s the most hopeful song in the collection and intones: All hope is not lost/It’s just been misplaced. In addition to being a gorgeous song, it has two other things to which one should pay attention. The first is another understated ornament; listen for the small catches in Angelis’ voice. As for the second, I remind you that Kris Angelis is also an actress, which helps explain why there are filmmaking references in the song.*


That Siren, Hope is (mostly) a quiet album for the quiet time of the year. Yet, somehow, I suspect Kris Angelis will soon be making bigger noises.


Rob Weir


* One lyric says, “This film has no foley yet.” Foley artists record or create background sounds that lend a sense of reality to a film. For example, a foley artist might recreate the sound of wind for a shot done on an inside set. Or if a film pirate pulls a sword from its scabbard, it’s likely not to be a deadly one; a foley artist added the effect of steel being pulled through its sheath.  



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