The first of three releases coming out this fall on our Other Music Recording Co. imprint, Secret in the Dark is the worldwide debut of singer/songwriter Monika Christodoulou, whose previous two albums are platinum sellers in her homeland of Greece. Unlike those earlier records, this one is seeing release across the globe, and it also marks an artistic transition for this amazing talent. During a trip to New York in 2012, Monika met Homer Steinweiss (founding member of the Dap-Kings and Menahan Street Band), and the two hit it off creatively, leading to what would become Secret in the Dark. Produced by Steinweiss at Menahan's Dunham Hill Sound Studios in Brooklyn, her new album finds all involved exploring new directions. Here, Monika lets her emotive voice and songwriting dig into some deep dance grooves, while producer/drummer Steinweiss and the players, which include most of the Menahan Street Band and various members of the Dap-Kings and Antibalas (Thomas Brenneck, Nick Movshon, Leon Michels and Victor Axelrod are all integral to the production), update their vintage soul and funk grooves. Influences of '70s-styled leftfield disco and '80s art-pop abound across the album -- from the mysterious dance-floor strut of the title track which is propelled by a Stevie Wonder-inspired clavinet riff and lifted by its ABBA-esque vocal refrain, to the lush and operatic '80s-inspired synth-pop of "Stripping," to the jaunty feel-good of "Shake Your Hands" (a duet with Miike Snow's Andrew Wyatt). Throughout, Monika's powerful voice blends the expressive lilt of Kate Bush with the deep, soulful range of Grace Jones, while also effortlessly integrating traditional Greek flourishes into her infectious melodies. Ultimately, Secret in the Dark really is a New York album with a breezy Mediterranean heart, and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce this wonderful original singer and songwriter to the rest of the world. (October 1, 2015)



Reviewed by Gerald Hammill