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CD Review: Strange Love & The Secret Language 

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Woodstock-based singer-songwriter Adrien Reju was raised as the only daughter of a cellist/composer and music teacher/oboist/book editor in New York, where she was exposed from an early age to a range of musical genres from classical to jazz (her father's repertoire) and from folk to classic rock (her mother's record collection). Her background shows on this wildly eclectic collection of 10 love songs, ranging from original, soulful pop tunes such as "Moonlight," the Motown-inspired "Last Call," and the Roy Orbison-like tearjerker "Still Not Over You," to a sultry take on David Bowie's "Soul Love," a deep-funk remake of Prince's "If I Was Your Girlfriend" (with a hint of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" thrown in), and a pitch-perfect indie-rock rendition of King Missile's "Hemophiliac of Love" with a vocal assist from A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers.

Avant-garde keyboardist Marco Benevento lends eerie atmospherics to Reju's classical-flavored, jazzy, art-pop rendition of Elliott Smith's "Waltz #1." The album was recorded at Goathouse Studios in Woodstock and was produced by the Elegant Too (Chris Maxwell and Phil Hernandez), who wisely keep the sound clean and the melody to the forefront. What ties it all together is Reju's distinctive vocals, a fleet instrument itself born to convey intimacy and vulnerability, and her penchant for dramatic melodicism on what stands as her gorgeous manifesto, "Solo Mission." Adrienreju.com.

—Seth Rogovoy

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