The first thing one notices about Monika Jalili is her phrasing. Each note is waterdrop-rounded, and each word emerges as if she has a stagehand in her throat straightening collars and brushing dandruff off jackets before anyone is allowed to step onstage. She sings with a cello-tone and is backed by a cello, along with a few other strings and things. It’s a restrained accompaniment for a restrained, graceful album. Her voice is the centrepiece. It moves with a dolorous slowness without actually seeming sad. Born in the U.S. to part-Persian parentage, Jalili received voice training, worked as a singer in musical theatre, and then decided to concentrate on Iranian songs, releasing her first album, NoorSaz, in 2005.
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