Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Conchita Campos has collaborated with a bunch of musicians also based in NYC for this project. Calling themselves Little Shells (Conchita means ‘little shells’), the result is “5 Deep Under”, eight songs plus a bonus track, released 10th April, 2015.
Campos is known for bossa nova, pop, jazz and soul, and with a BA in Electronic Music Composition, she sure can construct a song. She knows how to make you dance; on this album, she also knows how to make you feel and think. These tracks show off her vocal range very well, but she’s no mere technician. Through jazz and thoughtful pop, she is soulful, complemented by the fine musicians she has surrounded herself with. At times, it feels like stopping to swim in a cool lake in the hot desert, although this isn’t a holiday from strong emotions.
Little treats are scattered like jewels. Imaginative percussion does the unexpected. Multi-tracking creates great harmonies, as jazz, funk and melodic pop intertwine. Slow dance to “Haik (god of the sea)”, a slice of funk-jazz with a slinky trumpet. “Feet on the Ground” is skilful song-writing that moves you emotionally but makes you want to dance at the same time.
Campos addresses loss and grief on “I’ll Remain” and “Lola’s Song”. She wonders what happens when we pass over on “I’ll Remain”, the album’s single. What remains of us? “Lola’s Song” describes the difficult experience of watching a loved one “flying to the light” – “they call it peace, but it’s bittersweet”.
“When They’re Gone” has both mournful and pizzicato strings. “Goodnight” has delicate brush work on the drum kit, subtle touches on the upright bass, and sweet jazz guitar. “Ease My Mind” is the Bonus Track, with great trumpet solos and soft percussion again. For all its gentleness, the accompanying video, described as a “short film vignette about loss and yearning in a post-apocalyptic world”, is brutal but also beautiful.
This album should expand Campos’ fan base. Her vocal phrasing is elegant, with songs which are sometimes sultry, and at other times, thoughtful. Each musician is sympathetic to the song-writing. Best played late at night with a large glass of wine.