If the fact that Texan violinist Elana James became the first female to join Bob Dylan's touring band in 2005 isn't evidence enough that she should be taken seriously, you need not stretch your ears further than her self-titled debut solo CD.
Incorporating her violin flair into a truly devious blend of ragtime jazz and swing, "Twenty-Four Hours a Day" might just cause heart palpitations. This is the music that would play on in the smoky pubs and bars of old. You can dance to it; you can drink to it; you can cry to it. You could even fight to it. Wasn't this the very purpose of music?
Elana excels in bringing together the old and the new. Pop sensibilities shine through on Dylan's "One More Night". Not only does Elana's inviting voice fit nicely with a sugared sound, but sweeter tracks like "All the World and I" help to give a steady balance and flow to the album.
Elana's sensual offering of Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good") will lull you into a sense of comfort and happiness you can't possibly sustain, so don't be surprised if withdrawal symptoms see you punching strangers later in the day.
It is true that much is owed to the instrumentation - the often wandering violin and guitar may stray too freely for the liking of some, but there's no doubting the quality of it. Like a young Rosie Flores, her voice isn't the most adaptable, but instead possesses a seductive yet classy element that will do her more favours than a wider vocal range.
Time spent with Dylan and Willie Nelson can only have benefited this young woman, and speaks volumes of what is thought of her ability. This album is a fine start to Elana's solo career, and hopefully the first of many. Available from CD Baby.