Amatus - Broken Compass

Amatus
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Some of the best advice anybody can receive involves diversification. Spreading one’s brand requires a step outside of the comfort zone.

Therein lies the dilemma.  Say you have a good voice like Chicago born, Philly-raised and New York-schooled Amatus. The predictable play would be for her to place all of her eggs into the high risk/high reward vocal basket.

However, Amatus is ambitious and curious. After moving to Philadelphia following her parents’ split up, she found her way to recording studios in New York while she was still a teenager. There, pros such as Erykah Badu, Common and The Roots allowed her to watch them practice their craft. Bass player MeShell Ndegeocello gave Amatus a sequencing keyboard, and she was on her way.

Some of the best advice anybody can receive involves diversification. Spreading one’s brand requires a step outside of the comfort zone.

Therein lies the dilemma.  Say you have a good voice like Chicago born, Philly-raised and New York-schooled Amatus. The predictable play would be for her to place all of her eggs into the high risk/high reward vocal basket.

However, Amatus is ambitious and curious. After moving to Philadelphia following her parents’ split up, she found her way to recording studios in New York while she was still a teenager. There, pros such as Erykah Badu, Common and The Roots allowed her to watch them practice their craft. Bass player MeShell Ndegeocello gave Amatus a sequencing keyboard, and she was on her way.

Throughout a career that led to Amatus releasing her new five track EP Broken Compass, the artist continued to stretch out. She designed clothing for small New York boutiques, as well as for artists she met along the way. She recently did sound design and scoring for a play and scored a documentary for Al Jazeera America. That’s a range of experience that will serve Amatus well in case the gig in front of the mic doesn’t pan out, but it becomes clear pretty early in in her new EP, Broken Compass, that Amatus has a future in this business at any level.

Although Amatus uses her broad array of skills on Broken Compass, she proves that singing is a legitimate part of her toolbox. She possesses a voice with a seductively ephemeral quality that is reminiscent of Goapele, as can be heard on “Cherish,” the EP’s final track. That quality serves her well on numbers such as “Punk” that require Amatus to display vulnerability. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that Amatus can’t rock. The aggressive aspect of her vocals come through on the electro funk/rock opening number “Messin’”.

As good as Amatus is vocally, Broken Compass reveals that production might be her true gift. Her work on “Coming Home,” the best cut on this EP, is masterful from the guitar riff and vocal harmonizing that are interspersed with her lyrics on the verses to the percussion and bass that power the tune’s air tight hook. “Coming Home” features changes of tempo, instrumental interplay and overdubbed vocals that sound organic. The track is well produced without being overproduced.

Amatus strikes that balance throughout Broken Compass and this debut gives a glimpse into the talent that compelled ?uestlove, E. Badu and Common to take her under their collective wings. The years of training have paid off, and Amatus appears to be a new artist who is ready to fly. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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