Connor Desai
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Connor Desai

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"Top 25 CDs of 2007 - Award Review"

The only thing harder than digging our way out from under the avalanche of submissions we got in 2007 was trying to pick our Top 25 favorites. Independent artists were on fire this year, sending us rock, jazz, metal, power pop, and all kinds of hybrids, a lot of them sounding way better than anything we heard on the radio. After agonizing and debating, we finally whittled down the list to 25. I'm warning you musicians, if you don't stop sending us such great CDs, next year we'll have to expand the list to the Top 50.

Connor Desai: Self-Titled
This smoky-voiced jazz/pop siren stayed in my CD player for months. My toes melted into the floor each time I heard that croon drift out of my speakers. She gets edgy and raw sometimes, not adverse to dropping an F bomb here and there, but she can also slide into Radio-Friendly Land without compromising that spirited attitude. A must for anyone with a soul. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) - Indie Music Magazine


"Hot Buttered Rum, Anyone?"

By Jennifer Layton

I melted at the very first notes. Good Lord, where has this voice been all my life? Take the easy lightness of Edie Brickell, add in the scratch of Rickie Lee Jones, dip it in hot buttered rum, put it in a smoky jazz nightclub, and you have Connor Desai. And you only have her for six tracks, so savor the sound. Let it melt over you and make your toes tingle. This debut EP is sheer bliss.

The lyrics carry the same edgy purr as the vocal. “Seems I’ve been f***** up, I’ve gone and judged my cup before filling it up,” she confesses in “Do I,” a great slow stand-up bass and brush percussion groove with a subtle funky vibe. She also turns the tables well in “Trouble Is”:

The trouble is I wake inside my head
The trouble is I got nowhere to hide, to run to
The trouble is you ...

“At All” is a standout for its live atmosphere. You can hear the echo in the mic, and whether or not this was actually recorded in a club, I can still smell the alcohol in the air, feel the close presence of the crowd, and see the cabs and buses moving past the windows. And like the others, the song is dreamy. Sad sentiments set to romantic music. “Don’t waste your lovin’ on me,” she sings, “I’m too drenched to sense that it’s warm.”

Desai makes a seamless transition into more radio-friendly pop on the EP second half. “Wake Up” is snappy and playful, and “Will You Love” has a very modern pop/rock feel. It flows. But I like the return to the lush sound on the final track, the intriguingly-titled “Deviance,” and those fabulous lyrics:

Inhibitions fade,
I’m emptying my pockets on this stage
Slide down ridges in my pants and fingers
Ridges in the throats of the singers ...

I’ll just hit “play” and slide into this again. Next time Seattle gets hit with the crazy snowstorms they had this winter, Desai should just step out into her yard, strum her guitar and sing. People will be talking for years about that crazy winter where it stayed at 90 degrees and half of Puget Sound evaporated.
- Indie Music Magazine


"The Deft Ease of Connor Desai"

Slowcore fanatics might be amazed with the deft ease that Connor Desai portrays a sound that’s somewhere lost between pop, indie folk, and vocal jazz. Sort of like if Norah Jones had never been discovered and was forced to record in her Brooklyn apartment. The album is awash in fiery lyrics that are delivered with sublime intentions. A sexy vocal dances above the fray of stripped down percussion, light guitar, and danceable bass lines. This is New York City (via Seattle) captured on wax my friends (or silver disc for you heathens out there)."

- J-Sin (Smother Magazine, Smother.net)
- Smother Magazine


"Secret Stairs Beguiles Jaded Music Writers"

Following the critical acclaim that met Seattle songwriter/guitarist Connor Desai’s self-titled debut EP, Secret Stairs is the compelling result of her collaboration with bassist Alex Trzyna and drummer Mike O’Doherty. As they blend Connor’s irresistibly sultry purr and uncluttered guitar stylings with Alex and Mike’s innovative rhythms, Secret Stairs float between jazz, folk, pop and indie slowcore without breaking stride or putting audiences to sleep.

From her first public performance, singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the age of three, Connor Desai has pursued every opportunity to emulate her early influences (Victoria Williams and Kansas, among many others) and create honest, soulful music. Her first release was a success in that regard – sexy and soothing and downright real in a manner that beguiled a number of jaded music writers. In Secret Stairs, Connor will have the opportunity to bring her songs on the road while working with two musicians equally as talented and innovative.

Alex Trzyna has been playing everything from prog to funk since picking up the bass guitar for his initial 9th grade “grunge” band in 1991. He found time to produce and engineer Leanne Wilkins’ folk/Americana album Waterwheel as he gigged around Seattle in a number of local acts and assisted Connor with the creation of her debut EP.

Mike O’Doherty recently moved to Seattle from Santa Cruz, California to teach drums at The Rock School. Like Alex, Mike is conversant in a number of musical styles and has been active as a professional musician for the last fifteen years. He’s a familiar face in venues throughout the West Coast and brings a seasoned edge to Secret Stairs.

Matt Brown, NadaMucho.com - NadaMucho.com


"Dreamily Soulful Channeling"

Connor Desai's self-titled 6-track EP is an impressive debut. Seattle's Desai makes dreamily soulful jazz/pop, reminiscent of Norah Jones or Feist. Her voice is sultry, her lyrics alluring and poetic, backed by playful percussion and subtly funky bass grooves (courtesy of bassist Alex Trzyna and drummer Mike O'Doherty.) The second track,“Do I,” is sexy and jazzy. "Wake Up" adds some understated organ to the mix, with lyrics that sweetly capture the excitement and shyness of a new relationship, while "Will You Love" is radio friendly pop, plain and simple. The standouts though are “At All,” a gorgeous ballad, and “Deviance” which beautifully closes the album with a cool jazzy beat and Desai's smoky voice channeling Feist. According to her myspace page, as of September Desai and her bandmates will be recording under the name Secret Stairs. “Same band, different name,” the page assures. They are currently in the studio working on their second album.

Ashley MacQuarry - Reviewer Magazine


Discography

Connor Desai - Self Titled EP (released 2007)

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Bio

Following the critical acclaim that met Seattle songwriter/guitarist Connor Desai’s self-titled debut EP, her forthcoming sophomore album is the compelling result of her collaboration with Spokane-based producer, Chris White and former band (Secret Stairs) members; bassist Alex Trzyna and drummer Mike O'Doherty. Blending her irresistibly sultry purr and uncluttered guitar stylings with Alex and Mike’s innovative rhythms, Connor's sound floats between jazz, folk, pop and indie slowcore without breaking stride or putting audiences to sleep.

From her first public performance, singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the age of three, Connor Desai has pursued every opportunity to emulate her early influences (Victoria Williams and Kansas, among many others) and create honest, soulful music. Her first release was a success in that regard – sexy and soothing and downright real in a manner that beguiled a number of jaded music writers.

Alex Trzyna has been playing everything from prog to funk since picking up the bass guitar for his initial 9th grade “grunge” band in 1991. He found time to produce and engineer Leanne Wilkins’ folk/Americana album Waterwheel as he gigged around Seattle in a number of local acts and assisted Connor with the creation of her debut EP.

Mike O'Doherty recently moved to Seattle from Santa Cruz, California to teach drums at The Rock School. Like Alex, Mike is conversant in a number of musical styles and has been active as a professional musician for the last fifteen years.

-Matt Brown, NadaMucho.com

Since the release of her debut EP, Connor Desai has licensed songs to Sony and independent films, toured venerable establishments throughout the US, and played with such notable acts as Greg Laswell and Jesca Hoop. Her forthcoming sophomore release will be available in early 2010.