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Album review: 'And So It Begins' by Eva Celia

Stanley Widianto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, January 20, 2017  /  09:18 am
Album review: 'And So It Begins' by Eva Celia

Singer Eva Celia launched her music video “Against Time”, where she collaborated with musician Petra Sihombing. (Youtube/-)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, perfect and pleasing will.”

For some, Romans 12:2 is just a Bible passage, some wildly optimistic words braided to confirm God’s eternal benevolence. For Eva Celia, the Indonesian singer-songwriter, it’s a message that rings just as clear as a church bell.

Feeling inspired, she sets it to a lulling organ, the unassuming strum of a guitar and tosses it to name one of her songs. Now to her audience, “Romans (12:2)” is a six-minute jazz piece.

With a voice never above a whisper, Eva Celia includes the song in her debut album, the selfwritten And So It Begins.


A photo posted by Eva Celia (@evacelia) on

(Read also: Eva Celia releases all-English album)

Words around the release of this record never fail to mention musician Indra Lesmana (her father), actress and singer Sophia Latjuba (her mother), singer Nien Lesmana (grandmother) and late musician Jack Lesmana (grandfather).

Having a family with a thick bloodline in music, Eva has every reason to nurse an affinity for it. However, on And So It Begins, she craves more than an apprenticeship, making jazz music enough to carve out an identity, a place into whichever music scene you’ll lump her.

Set to organ, guitar and some twinkling piano chords, And So It Begins sounds wildly impressionistic. It’s a challenging record, rewarding multiple listens for the maximum kick.

Against Time”, for instance, is the closest the album gets to a pop song — and it ain’t even one. Eva recedes with her voice behind a steady drum beat and slow purrs of the piano. “Reason” starts off with an R&B nod and it stops being one as it goes on. And So It Begins wisely eschews crossover appeals, completing Eva’s quest to lead rather than follow.

(Read also: Eva Celia back in action with music video ‘Against Time’)

There are only eight songs on this record, one being an interlude (“Interlude: A Strange Kind of Longing”). The one thing that persists is the similarity between these songs, which are all given plenty of room to breathe. This is both a flaw and strength, but I’m willing to let the flaw slide.

The strength is, provided that And So It Begins is her debut, Eva’s clear vision for it. She knew exactly how to craft this particular album. It just happens that she doesn’t jump on this opportunity and lands with a thud.

Her lyrics on And So It Begins range from love (“Although I moved heaven and earth to fight this/still I can survive this” in “Another You”) to cheerful optimism (“I gotta make this for my bitter heart/and let love grow” in “Let Love Grow”, a song that has some genuinely cool guitar sounds near the end). It’s youthful, cheery and if an album with “Romans 12:2” as one of the songs gives you the wrong ideas, it’s not what you think. And So It Begins isn’t a gospel record, but it’s aware of whatever makes an album a gospel one.

So as a debut record, And So It Begins doesn’t always succeed — it’s too studious, too careful for my liking — but it works just fine as an introduction to Eva Celia, the talented singer-songwriter. And so it begins: onwards, upwards, or in whichever direction she sees fit.