Samantha Siva: Identity

As a keyboardist, songwriter and producer, Samantha Siva frames her Identity (Genie Entertainment 1548; 59:01) with gentle, memorable melodies and textured arrangements, ranging from sultry urban grooves to artsy acoustics. She also elicits outstanding support from such notables as David Benoit (offering a gentle picture-painting piano on “Wilderness” and teasing blues riffing on “I Can’t Stop”), guitarist Chieli Minucci (“If I Never”) and Richard Elliot (“Living Alone”). The missing element here, unfortunately, is Siva’s vocal work, which is rendered breathy, tremulous and thin by heavy, cavernous reverb effects. Whether aping Sade, as on “Living Alone,” or in bouncy pop-jazz mode (“I Can’t Stop”), Siva’s vocals trail off, trembling out the ends of phrases to a point where they begin to wander off-key. In a quieter arrangement like “Lullaby,” one of the album’s most absorbing pieces, the mix brings her vocal too far up-front, where it feels disconnected from the gentle combo behind, rather than an integrated part of the song.