iET, the alter ego of the Dutch singer- songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lisa Viegen, made an impression last year with a versatile EP titled The Kitchen Recordings Series 2 (obviously the sequel to series 1) on which she collaborated with some of today’s best Dutch female singers (including Janne Schra, Lilian Hak, Mary Davis Jr., Stevie Ann). So Unreal is Vliegen’s first record under the stage name iET, which is the petname friends gave her. The intimacy of the kitchen table is exchanged for a professional studio, a producer of repute and a tight sounding band. As a vocalist iET is left to her own devices and some strategic overdubbing and both are more than sufficient. So Unreal kicks of with some of the most soothing and natural sounding neo-soul I’ve heard since the heydays of India-Arie, Jill Scott and Macy Gray. Some artists are happy to stay loyal to a formula if it works, but iET refuses to stick to one genre, how pleasurable it might be. She explores her jazzy side on Don’t Let Go, has a succesful throw at Carpenteresque AM Pop on Ways and returns to the folky sound of the Kitchen Recordings on Innocence. iET is at her best when she fuses all these influences into one. The two majestic songs at the end of the album are the best example of her potential.
The sprawling ambition of Stay, including an unexpected but totally appropriate dub-ending, provokes a comparison to the fabulous Janelle Monàe. The album’s title track is a sensual piece of alt. R&B that possesses more persuasive power than anything found on records by celebrated youngsters like Liana La Havas or Jessie Wares. iET is the owner powerful and versatile voice and Producer Russell Elevado (D’ Angelo ,Erykah Badu ,The Roots and Alicia Keys)is a master in bringing out the best of her. Sometimes she sounds soulful and funky, but alwyas with a European touch, other times she sounde subdued and delicate without wallowing in it. If iET’s clear and inviting singing on a song like Something Out There leaves you unmoved, you should check in mirror for a reflection; you might be un-dead without knowing it. So Unreal is warm-blooded record full of feel-good music that is both adventurous and heartfelt. It’s an album with multiple exteriors and I guess this what iET wanted to illustrate with the album cover, even thought it turned out a bit avant-gardist for the cover of a soul record. Every song on So Unreal oozes quality, even a hidden track in the form of a cover of Pink Floyd’s Great Gig In The Sky. Giving her own twist to Floyd and not messing up means we’re dealing with an artist of international allure.
This review was loosely based on a review in Dutch on http://dekrentenuitdepop.blogspot.nl/