Sometimes, the back story behind the music is as exciting, poignant and interesting as the music itself. Not in an “X-Factor pity-party” sort of way, but it is fair to say that the modern world, with its technology and connectivity and willingness to ignore genre and geography, allows artists to meet and work in ways that would have seemed alien a decade or so ago.

And so it is with Montezuma (aka UK-based musician and songwriter Mark Roper) who, when looking for a voice to bring hi songs to life, found Ukrainian singer Olha Lishchshyn via an online platform. The result of this coming together, presumably via a remote, file-sharing way of working, is the album Need U Right Now, a collection of poised and poignant pop with a slightly retro vibe.

The opener, Joy In My Life, has the feel of a 90’s R&B ballad, but despite its gentle, lilting rhythms and deft and delicate weaves of sound, Olha’s voice takes centre stage. And so it is with the album in general, the vocals always capturing the limelight but never through dominating or over-playing the role, always through just making the perfect contribution.

They Kill Angels shows a slightly darker take on the pop package, but songs such as Got That Feeling show us just how the balance works. It is not just that Olha Lishchshyn has a great voice, that is beyond argument, but the balance between muse and music works so well because Montezuma leaves enough space in the songs for the voice to be heard, expand, develop and soar.

There are more upbeat moments, such as the beat-driven Higher Power and the shuffling, Latin-laced Strange World, but overall, the music remains understated, spacious, and addictive. Poised pop, indeed.

It is also worth noting that 20% of the profits of this album will be donated to charities that help Ukraine, just one more reason to give the album a spin and pick up a copy. Great music and a more than worthy cause. Pick up a copy today.

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