Album “Reasons” – Ilene Martinez by Jeffrey Koterba
I love a good coincidence, especially when the coincidence is yet another reminder of how small and wonderful the world can be.
As some of you know, this past year I’ve been doing a deep dive into learning French. In Omaha I constantly have my ears open for opportunities to connect with other French language learners and those who speak French. So imagine my surprise when one day last summer, at the last minute, I stopped by a terrific neighborhood festival—Benson Days—and heard a talented singer/songwriter whose music had a a bit of a French flavor—even though she was singing in English.
Maybe it was because she was accompanied by an accordionist. Or perhaps it was onstage vibe. Whatever the case, her music captured my imagination.
Her music also had an American roots/folk vibe. I’d never heard anything quite like it and was intrigued. So much so, I waited until she finished her performance to chat with her.
Ilene Martinez is an American artist who, as it turned out, was currently living in France. Not to mention, as a child she lived in Schuyler, Nebraska, not far from where my mom grew up.
Not long ago, in the mail, was a package stamped with a French postmark. Inside, this delightful gem of an album with wonderfully-composed songs, including “Exiles,” inspired by Willa Cather’s novella, “The Bohemian Girl.” And yes, this song includes accordion.
All this is to say you should get this album. Either a physical copy or online and celebrate how cool the world can be.
Ilene Martinez – CD Reasons by Dominique Boulay
The first notes set the tone… Sensual, suggestive ballads and melodies. I must admit that this type of composition has the merit of quickly revealing Ilene Martinez’s vocal skills and very beautiful voice.
She easily manages to win us over, with what she sings, writes and composes … 11 tracks, including 2 featuring jazz saxophonist Céline Bonacina (soprano, alto and baritone). First we must highlight the many style changes taking place throughout the album.
We go from songs where the accordion is very present, to others where saxophone leads the dance. An album difficult to classify… Listening to the beautiful Ilene, we might think of the singer Melanie, for example, who likewise resisted categorization. A random coincidence? Listening to Ilene also brings to mind these great singers who have the gift of giving us the goosebumps as soon as their albums hit the turntable, or even Robin McKelle, who is also a very important artist! The quality of an ensemble is not synonymous with quantity, since there are only three musicians here to accompany “the” Voice which lights up this opus. Listen to “Leaving Austin” and you will understand. All the elements to trouble and touch you are here in this song, as in the entire album. Olivier Mugot on guitars and arrangements, Maxime Perrin on accordion, French horn and also arrangements, and Philippe Henner on acoustic bass create a work of art in the manner of a jeweler. “Too Late” is further proof of this… and we are only on song number three! I should list all 11 here, to say what I like about each one, because they all deserve it! Listening to this album is a pure delight and we wish there were multitudes of albums like this one. Meanwhile, we particularly appreciate settling for this one!!!
Paris-Move & Blues Magazine (Fr)
PARIS-MOVE, January 18th 2020
Ilene Martinez – CD Reason by Frankie Pfeiffer (Paris Move)
No doubt, it was for good “Reasons” that American troubadour Ilene Martinez took her time to deliver this opus. Good things come to those who wait, and perhaps the singer needed to let inspiration slowly seep into her, extracting the quintessence and composing ten tracks out of the eleven on the album.
With this beautiful opus, Ilene Martinez does not so much impose her talent as distill it, with a tenacious desire to present only the highest quality songs. Therefore, this work is surprisingly mature. There are no covers to fill the CD or to demonstrate that she has the same talent as this or that star. No, it is the charming Ilene Martinez who wrote lyrics and music for the ten tracks on this album, completing the collection with a traditional song, “Pretty Saro,” which Ilene interprets with sensitivity and her own approach.
The first song alone hooks you in, because it contains all the magic and musical luminosity that Ilene Martinez has to offer. Maxime Perrin’s masterful accordion envelops sublimely, and knows how to pull back when it’s time for Celine Bonacina’s saxophone or Olivier Mugot’s guitar to step out in front. The songs are realistically melancholy, pierced with truths and realities that will make you reflect on our so-called “modern” era and relationships with others.
Some songs will stir your gut, or heart, and others will make you soar in a sky as blue as the one featured on the album’s cover. Ilene Martinez’s voice and fingers contain the magic of troubadours that will break your heart and make you cry… then make you smile your widest smile and put a sparkle in your eye. There are eleven gold nuggets here, but very sincerely, we would have liked to hear more. When is the double album coming out, Ilene…? Surely when the young woman’s songs have seen the light of day for long enough, she will no longer be able to keep them for herself and will feel obligated to share them with us. Now, for the mainstream media to do their job and to publicize “Reasons,” because without a doubt, Ilene Martinez deserves this recognition. I know few artists who know how to bring you to tears and make you smile at the same time, and Ilene is one of them. Indispensable, truly indispensable!
Editor in chief – Paris-Move
Ilene Martinez, interviewed by Mark A Jordan
this Sunday night, January 26, on Curb Radio (Arizona)
CD Reasons – Ilene Martinez on Paris Move website