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Elissa Lala: Touch of Your Voice

How ironic that Philly’s Elissa Lala shares her last name with a less-than-complimentary euphemism for the town she’s called home for the past two decades. For, unlike L.A., there’s nothing flighty or phony about Lala, whose hauntingly beautiful voice seems all the more exquisite when you learn she’s spent a lifetime battling severe hearing loss (and currently spends much of her time working with the hearing impaired).

Alongside guitarist Johnnie Valentino, her longtime professional and personal partner, Lala takes a slow, luxurious stroll through 10 songs associated with Chet Baker. Superficially, there seems a wide chasm separating Baker’s and Lala’s stylistic approaches. When Baker sang, he invoked visions of a reckless, twilight, tail-finned journey into a dark cave, all exits obscured, threatening to collapse under its own emotional weight. Lala, conversely, sounds like she’s standing on a snow-capped mountain, purifying breezes swirling around her. But in their intensity and the depth of their musicality, she and Baker are kindred spirits.

Originally Published