Plush Red Chair - Review by Stacey Zering, No Depression Magazine
Apr 16, 2018
"Cayla Brooke's "Plush Red Chair" soars with swagger and self-confidence "
Hearing singer/songwriter Cayla Brooke's voice for the first time is like a cool breeze shooting through an arid summer afternoon. On "Old Fashioned Love," the sweet undertow of Brooke's soulful singing reaches the heavens, parting any dark clouds for gorgeous harmonizing. Sun-kissed and smoothly melodic, "Old Fashioned Love" sounds like the Supremes collaborating with Chicago; it is among the most emotionally soaring tracks on Brooke's sparkling new album, Plush Red Chair. It's pure, absolute bliss with Brooke and her band firing on all cylinders.
Comparisons to Adele are inevitable but Brooke covers her own ground. In fact, Brooke is more versatile in terms of feel as Adele, as brilliant as she is, prefers to drown in sorrow. Even on "Cheating Heart," wherein Brooke laments a partner's infidelity, she isn't soaking in soap suds. Rather, Brooke is downright playful, delivering a kiss off with swagger and self-confidence.
"Some say I'm too old/Too much meat on my bones," Brooke claims on the opening cut, "Divalicious!" (That could've been the title of this whole record, actually.) There's attitude and experience in those lyrics and vocals, and it's so exhilarating to hear such honesty free from irony and pretentious bullshit. Plush Red Chair is the real deal and a must-have.
Plush Red Chair - Review, Jazz Corner
April 10, 2018
Cayla Brooke is an artist with a passion for the sophistication of jazz and the energy of rock music. For some purists, these two genres might be worlds apart, but Brooke knows how to seamlessly bridge the gaps between these two musical philosophies. After all, it's easy to forget that even two genres as diverse as jazz and rock could easily be traced back to the same musical roots.
Brooke's recent studio work, Plush Red Chair, is a stunning project which exemplifies Brooke's charisma and talent, as well as her unique creative vision.
The title of the album might evoke a sense of cozy comfort and warmth, and the song it's named after achieves just that as well.
Plush Red Chair is long overdue: in fact, it has been several years in the making. Due to a very successful campaign on Pledge Music, Brooke was able to receive the support she needed to bring this project to life in the best possible way.
The results are absolutely stunning, channelling the grit, energy and class of a performer that is just incredibly distinctive and one-of-a-kind.
Fool Review: A& R Factory, Amelia Vandergast
Posted on 22 April 2018
Soulful Instrumental Alchemy
There’s not many tracks that can make my jaw drop as the instrumentals kick in, yet, Cayla Brooke’s band created such soulful instrumental alchemy in her latest single Fool the hairs instantly stood up on the back of my neck.
Combined with her huskily glorious vocal style the 5-minute track Fool provides an almost transcendentally blissful Neo Jazz experience. The progression of the track is lifted through the soaring guitar riffs and cacophonous offerings from the brass section. I’ve never been much of a Jazz Rock fan before listening to Cayla Brooke’s track Fool, but it’s safe to say I’m now a convert to her sweet yet domineeringly sultry style which is created using an infusion of genres she’s used to mould her iconic style. The Vancouver based singer songwriter has received nothing but critical acclaim for her standout style, and it really is no wonder considering her glistening charisma and heart wrenching lyricism. With each track from her latest album Plush Red Chair she mixes up her style weaving from ballads to dance tunes.
Q&A - NO DEPRESSION MAGAZINE, STACEY ZERING
Jan 2, 2018
Canada-based singer/songwriter Cayla Brooke balances a hybrid of jazz, rock, and blues. Her new album, Plush Red Chair, plumbs the depths of her personal life while reflecting her diverse musical inspirations.
Q: What was your introduction to music? How old were you, and how did it affect you?
A: My first introduction to music would be in church. I may have been born in a pew as I was there so much during my youth. The church was full of incredible musicians. Every Sunday there was a new performance by the 120 voice choir or singers I looked up to. It was natural progression for me to want to perform.
Q: Did you grow up in a musical environment?
A: Besides the church environment, my mom was a big fan of music and the arts in general. Judy Garland, Nat King Cole. She loved Big Band and jazz. She is the one who introduced me to the arts – taking me to “King Lear” at the age of eight (which I don’t recommend), musicals, and such. My father loved country music and all things twang. And my older siblings were into the hip music of the day. Looking at that it’s no wonder my music is rather eclectic.
Q: What styles of music had the greatest impact on you creatively?
A: I love good music. Jazz seems to infiltrate a lot of what I do, but I am far from a jazz purist. There is a soulfulness that breaks through most of my vocals; my Gospel background no doubt. It’s that eclectic background that feeds my music now. Hints of country, blues, and rock. I’m old enough to not care about settling in a box, genre-wise. I sing what I like which turns out to be a blend of many different styles. It’s a good representation of who I am as a person.
Q: How did you learn how to sing and write song?
A: Besides attending church? When I saw Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl on television at the age of eight everything changed. I wanted to be Fanny Brice. I wanted to be in the Ziegfeld Follies, talk with a Jewish accent and live in New York. If there is one singer who has had the most impact on me it would be Streisand. She taught me how to sing. I spent hours in my room listening to her every note. Mimicking her. If you listen, you can hear her influence in a lot of what I do.
I love writing. Lyrics come easy for me, although I always feel the last song I wrote is the last one I’ll ever write. I’m surprised when another set of lyrics come out of me. But I love co-writing the most. It’s that collaboration of different techniques and styles. Creating something that is unique only to the partnership.
Q: What was the first song you ever wrote?
A: I put Gospel lyrics to a boogie. “Some Men Like to Boogie Woogie.” It was epic.
Q: What is the most personal special track on Plush Red Chair and why?
A: Plush Red Chair is a personal album. Each song owns heart real estate for me. But, if I were to choose one song it would have to be “You Didn’t Break Me.” Life can be difficult for us all. My life was no exception. There was a moment in my life; however, when I realized something. That not living my life the way I am supposed to. Not following the dreams of the three-year-old little girl inside of me. Allowing life to happen to me instead of me happening to life. In doing that, I had allowed the circumstances of life and those who had been cruel to me to beat me. I had let them all win.
I was no longer a wild pony but a tired old pack horse. Broken. “You Didn’t Break Me” is about that specific moment that happened at my sister’s funeral a decade ago. It was like a light. A tiny light. But I saw it, and it grows brighter every day.
When I first approached my writing partner, Bill Sample, with this song, I only had a melody for the verses. I didn’t have any ideas for a chorus. Bill and I were struggling to find something that worked. Then Bill said, “How about we go in a different direction. Let’s think Adele.” He played the stellar intro to the chorus; I started to sing. We both looked at each other. The hair on our arms standing on end – always a good sign. We had it. I tried to sing through the rest of the song. I couldn’t. I bawled like a baby. At the end we hugged each other. We knew we had something special. When Bill and I got together the next week to write I asked him how his week had been. He replied, “I’m still recovering.” From what? I asked. “That song! I shook for hours after that song!”
Q: What artists influenced you the most growing up?
A: Barbra Streisand, of course, Ella Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland. I love a big voice. I also loved Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. I had almost every album from Gospel great Andre Crouch. As an adult, hearing Eva Cassidy had a huge impact on me. Her sound resonated with me. She sang what she wanted and put unique twists on classic songs, something I like to do as well. I felt a kindred spirit with her – so much so I wrote a show about her life and music and toured with it for some years.
Q: How have you evolved creatively?
A: I have a clearer understanding of who I am as an artist. The industry would have chewed me up and spat me out had I followed my dreams at a young age. I’m now at a time in my life where I know who I am as a woman and a musician. I have a story to tell. Before I was a pretty girl with a pretty voice. Now there is a depth to what I sing. A lifetime of experience, trials and triumphs. There’s attitude and humour. Mostly there’s a connection between my heart, and my voice that wasn’t there before and I like it.
Plush Red Chair Review by Katie Halligan, Indie Music Plus
Dec 2, 2018
Cayla Brooke is a rip-roaring solo artist who has defied societal standards with her body-positive sonic revolution since 2013. Based out of Vancouver, Brooke’s music reflects jazzy sophistication with a rock-and-roll attitude. Having celebrated a Christmas album and a critically acclaimed theatrical homage to the late Eva Cassidy, Cayla Brooke is now touring behind her 2017 album, Plush Red Chair.
Plush Red Chair comes flying out of the gates with its first track, “Divalicious,” a fun upbeat funk tune. It begins with a punchy horn line followed by Brooke’s voluminous growl that can grab the attention of a packed room. Brooke displays her attitude with malismatic vocal runs and gritty belting. With lyrics expressing confidence and empowerment, “Divalicious” is the perfect self-love anthem for women or female-identifying people of any age.
Brooke embraces a variety of styles with songs like “Fool,” set in a roaring 20’s jazz cabaret club filled with smoke and the whispers of nighttime adultery. A sultry Fleetwood Mac piano part creeps along until the band comes in with a rock steady beat that mirrors its melody. Brooke sings personal lyrics about surviving a foolish relationship, joined by John Lee Sanders in an electric ex-lovers’ duet. “Fool” is a great example of how Brooke mixes jazz with rock, blues, and soul.
“Moment” offers a gentler, more comforting glimpse into Brooke’s artistic vision. A slow and innocent love ballad, “Moment” embodies the feeling of being a new mom with lyrics about self-less devotion and unconditional love. Brooke sounds like an angelic guardian angel singing sweetly, accompanied by a languid piano melody and a deep warm cello counterpart. The piano and cello reappear in an explosive duet just before the bridge, driving home that rushing feeling of love at first sight.
The title track off the album, “Plush Red Chair,” dives into another stylistic, very jazzy realm. Brooke’s vocals are slightly over-pronounced in the style like Ella Fitzgerald used to sing, using material imagery to create metaphors about embracing being different than her surroundings. “Plush Red Chair” puts a refreshing twist on traditional jazz music using technical elements to break the rules of jazz songwriting, all set in a sophisticated cocktail bar.
“Shake The Dust” begins with Brooke singing a slow and beautiful melody about the courage it takes to get up each morning and dust the dirt off your shoes before starting anew. That melody eventually turns into a gospel-cheering embrace of moving forward and not looking back at past negativities. Brooke’s lyrics let the listener know everything’s going to be okay, echoed by a choir of sunshiny backing vocals. An inspirational song that is bright and hopeful for the future, “Shake The Dust” can give anyone a shot of self-confidence on a rainy day.
In her latest album, “Plush Red Chair,” Cayla Brooke uses her musical suave to prove that women can be sexy without being objectified. Cayla Brooke is the empowering light-up sign that every mild person with a dream has been looking for.