Intimate, thoughtful, original, this is an impressive debut – right down to the last...
Morag Reavley 2007-02-21
Mr and Mrs Andreadis must have had a premonition when they named their daughter after the Greek goddess of wisdom and civilisation. It’s the perfect name for the singer-songwriter who produced the intelligent, distinctive, slightly otherworldly music of this debut album.
Born in London, but raised in Greece, Athena’s reputation has been gathering pace over the last year, based on word of mouth, festival appearances and radio sessions. As mellifluous as she is pulchritudinous, it’s not hard to see why.
Just listen to the voice – a fluty, soaring, intimate thing, pure as a Cycladian sky, but with an edge which gives it real emotional eloquence. Hearing it on ‘’Eden (Garden State)’’ makes you shiver – in the best possible way.
Then there’s the music – a simple but sophisticated fusion of traditions: relaxed jazz, classical, folk and pop. Not forgetting Greek, though the influence is subtle.
While Athena writes in both English and Greek, the tracks on this album are all written in English. But the Hellenic inflections are there, under the influence of composer George Andreou, who produced it alongside Joe Boyd of Nick Drake fame. You can hear it in tracks like ‘‘Inside Out’’, written in Greek 9/4 time. Then there’s the instrumentation – mandolin, bayan, accordina and Balkan violin riffs feature alongside bass, acoustic guitar and piano.
Lyrically, the album is striking. Athena combines the mythological and modern – her songs describe love and betrayal in a landscape of ‘emerald fields’ under ‘a blood red sky’.
Stand-out tracks are the gorgeous ‘’Pretty Things’’, whose lilting melody disguises a tale of soured love, and ‘’Shades of Grey’’, with Geoff Martyn’s dark tones counterpointing Athena’s vocal vulnerability.
Intimate, thoughtful, original, this is an impressive debut – right down to the last breath.