Elaine Romanelli was a guest on my most recent radio show. Elaine visited the WFDU-FM studios to promote her new CD The Hour Before. It is a beautiful recording from a gifted voice that more people need to hear. Her stunning vocals are matched with her gift for creating songs that are honest, intelligent, passionate and ultimately uplifting. She deals with a number of different emotions on this CD and in the end, it is a welcome collection of songs that reflect the feelings and situations most of us face at one time or another.
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Elaine also spent time growing up in Manhattan, Kansas. She lived in San Francisco for a time where she was growing as a diverse artist involved in acting as well as musical forays into jazz and the singer-songwriter genre. As an actress, she appeared off-Broadway as part of the critically acclaimed Tony Kushner and Maruice Sendak production of Brundibar. She was also the subject of an episode of the reality TV series What Not to Wear, which comes a surprise once you meet the stylish and attractive artist.
The Hour Before was officially released on April 21, 2015. The recording was co-produced by Si Kahn, which not only gives her instant “folkie” cred, but also benefits from Si’s own talent in combining storytelling with music and theater. Many of these songs seem to be personal stories, but as Elaine noted in our interview, she used her acting background to place herself into situations and emotions. Make no mistake – there is honesty in each of these songs and they come from Elaine’s heart and soul.
One of my favorite tracks is the quirky “25”, an infectious song that deals with growing older and making each day a celebration by “dancing with abandon” rather than dreading the progression of time. Elaine also deals with the cards that life deals us in her song “The Year of Death” which despite its ominous title becomes a lesson on adjusting to whatever life has in store for us.
Elaine explores relationships in several songs on the CD such as “She and He” and the powerful “Real.” Elaine draws the listener into her lyrics and stories so that the emotions she sings about become relevant to the listener. The ability to draw an audience into the subject rather than sing at the audience is what makes a successful songwriter. Elaine has that talent in abundance.
While listening to the CD, I became absorbed in the perfectly sparse settings that allows Elaine’s voice and songs to shine. Like any good folk song, it is the words and performance that reaches the ears, eyes and mind of the listener. You do not need a studio full of backing musicians to create those settings. It is also interesting to note that Elaine is the only musician on the CD. Beside her voice, the piano is the primary instrument on the CD, but Elaine also plays guitar and the recording is a great representation of what she does in concert.
Elaine lives in NYC and can be found performing at clubs and venues in the metro area such as Rockwood Music Hall, where she recently held her CD release party. With a remarkable CD like The Hour Before, I am certain that Elaine will be heard well beyond the tri-state area as she earns her place as one of the powerful voices of contemporary folk music.