“Stylianou's Silent Movie begins with an incredibly slow take of her own, this time with the standard "Smile." She's close-in, too, her own version of delicate delivery disarming as she almost whispers her lines to this famous tune, accompanied by a sympathetic and supportive group. While she relies more on the occasional standard, her takes are so original you're inclined to forget who wrote it. James Taylor's "Something In The Way She Moves," Paul Simon's "Hearts And Bones," "The Folks Who Live On The Hill" and Mancini/Mercer's "Moon River" all suggest a familiarity, a genuine connection, Stylianou's delivery at times recalling, among others, Joni Mitchell when she plays with intervals in a more natural, less affected way. - 4 1/2 stars”
“Across three previous albums, all distinctively good, Stylianou was finding her footing, experimenting with different styles and interpretive approaches. Now, with Silent Movie, she settles into a spellbinding groove that advances her to the forefront of contemporary vocalists, rivaling the storytelling élan of Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. …Stylianou traverses an intriguingly wide-ranging assortment of covers that extends from Jerome Kern, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer to James Taylor and Paul Simon. Brazilian singer-songwriter Vanessa da Mata's "Onde Ir" unfolds with the delicacy of an orchid, while Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" becomes a stunning study in regret. Finally, there is the title track, crafted by Stylianou and her husband, Reynolds, which brilliantly depicts the drama of a disintegrating relationship in cinematic terms.”
“Stylianou excels at bittersweet, gentle heartbreakers, whether the source material is a tune by Charlie Chaplin (Smile, the patient, nicely contained disc opener), a Johnny Cash hit ( I Still Miss Someone) or some choice Brazilian MPB (Vanessa Da Mata’s Onde Ir). Stylianou renders these tunes with great and moving delicacy, making them as much her own as the evocative title track (a composition by Stylianou’s husband and pianist Reynolds, with her words) or the waltzing, haunting First Impressions (an Edgar Meyer piece with Stylianou’s lyrics). Not to play the Canadian card too strongly, but there are moments when Stylianou brings to mind the floating, haunting intimacy of a Sara McLachlan or a young Joni Mitchell. ...as the disc’s final track — a spare but essential version of Moon River for voice and Satie-like-piano — makes clear, Stylianou is her disc’s star, and a bright and luminous one she is at that.”
“Melissa Stylianou is a new name to me, yet “Silent Movie” (Anzic Records) is her fourth recording and it’s a winner by all measures, from the program of songs to the hues of emotion, made musical and colored brightly by her amazing band. Her liner notes reveal that evoking a mood, a place or a memory is foremost on Stylianou’s mind, and in that respect I am reminded of Joni Mitchell’s early records since Stylianou’s style of singing suggests Mitchell as well. By linking the listening of her album to the experience of watching a story unfold on screen, Stylianou smartly frames these twelve songs that comprise “Silent Movie” with a welcome intimacy. The gifted quartet of musicians that support her, guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Gary Wang, drummer Rodney Green and the fresh sounding pianist, Jamie Reynolds, collectively become the weavers of her dreams and Stylianou’s set list is delivered with breathtaking clarity, thanks to the uncluttered arrangements that frame her”
“A trained actress and a veteran of the New York cabaret scene, Stylianou knows how to boil a piece down to its key elements and present it in a way that everyone can relate to. Smart covers of classics and deep cuts from James Taylor (“Something in the Way She Moves”, with lyrics changed for role reversal), Paul Simon (“Hearts and Bones”) and Johnny Cash (“I Still Miss Someone”) take you right to the heart of each song’s protagonist. Not content to stick to music by old white guys, Stylianou makes Vanessa da Mata’s “Onde Ir” speak to you whether you speak Portugese or not, and she pulls every bit of blues out of Jennifer Newsom’s “Swansea.” And when other people’s lyrics aren’t enough, she gives us some of her own on the swirling title track and over Edgar Meyer’s intricate “First Impressions.” Stylianou credits New York’s 55 Bar as the place where this material was developed...Bartender! Give me another one of these, and make it a double!”
“For her 4th CD, Melissa Stylianou has assembled a fascinating collection of songs from various sources, ranging from originals to contemporary singer-songwriters (such as Joanna Newsom, Paul Simon and James Taylor) as well as "classic" songs from Henry Mancini, Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein and Johnny Cash. "Silent Movie" (Anzic Records) is best described by its creator as "a collection of small stories, everyday life caught in a series of moving frames." And what a fine storyteller Ms. Stylianou is. The opening track, Charlie Chaplin's classic melody "Smile", is flat-out gorgeous. No frills, no vocal acrobatics or fancy solos, just the wisdom of the lyrics (composed by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons). The quartet that supports the vocalist - pianist Jamie Reynolds, guitaristPete McCann, bassist Gary Wang, and drummer Rodney Green - makes all the right moves... Quiet music does not always make for good listening but "Silent Movie" glows with intelligence and love of melody.”
"Stylianou's solo vocals are at the centre of Silent Movie, where she's surrounded by a lush and shimmering settings. Silent Movie has ace selections from singer-songwriter James Taylor's songbook, when he was still on the old Apple label (Something in the Way She Moves) to a Johnny Cash lament (I Still Miss Someone) to Charlie Chaplin's greatest hit (Smile) to Henry Mancini's Oscar-winning Moon River. Like Krall, Stylianou is an interpreter who can create her own standards. Krall could count on husband and co-writer Elvis Costello when she was creating songs. Stylianou and her pianist (and husband) Jamie Reynolds co-wrote her new album's title track, an art song with a jazzy soul about life and love when the story on the screen is one's own. Whether the songs are her own, or from the Great American Songbook, Stylianou sings them with a delicate passion which is more sexy and sultry for the effortless control."
“This is a seemingly simple, yet full sounding disc of 12 songs by expat Canadian and New York singer Melissa Stylianou. The instrumentation is clean and clear; an uncluttered accompaniment for Stylianou's delightful voice and delivery. The CD is bookended by chestnuts -- Smile and Moon River -- which become highlights with her spare delivery over minimal accompaniment. Stylianou is a very good singer without pretense, just a pure, striking voice. She is especially effective with the guitar accompaniment of Pete McCann, and drummer Rodney Green is a subtle, strong presence throughout. Anat Cohen plays soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and clarinet over five tracks. Her simple, soulful work on Folks Who Live on the Hill is superb. You don't have to be a jazz fan to enjoy this, just a fan of great singing. ****”
"Stylianou somehow makes Johnny Cash next to Joanna Newsome work. Why question it? Armed with a fine voice and expressive chops, she knows how to appeal to those that like to venture off the beaten path. Her low key manner might not be for everyone, but anyone willing to wander into this tent will be amply rewarded with a unique sound that almost sounds tailored directly to that individual listener."
"There are about a half dozen positive aspects concerning Silent Movie and that is before taking a look at what may well be one of the finest vocal performances of the year. An eclectic song list including Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" along with some of the more obscure tunes from James Taylor, Paul Simon and a Henry Mancini / Johnny Mercer classic have Silent Movie poised for instant success." "An impressive ensemble cast of first call musicians and Stylianou's impeccable vocals immediately catapult this release to the top of the heap!" -5 Stars!
““A great new discovery for fans of modern vocal jazz, Stylianou is inventive in her phrasing and pure in sound.” “…intimate vocals, wonderful interpretation skills and striking songwriting.” ”
““Melissa Stylianou is an original too. She’s a gifted composer and an appealing singer, able to negotiate tricky twists in her tunes without getting too clinical.” – Downbeat Magazine *** (3 stars)”
"...an exotically sultry “All of You” and a gorgeously dreamy “That Ole Devil Called Love” make her a standards-bearer worth watching. But it is Stylianou’s artfully imagined originals, ranging from the down-home zest of “Mary’s in the Tub” to the emotional wreckage of the title track, that shift her from engaging to captivating.
““Melissa Stylianou has a clear intonation and a way with a lyric that’s reminiscent of singers like Stacey Kent and the late Susannah McCorkle. On Sliding Down, she confidently recasts both well known tunes and originals in refreshing terms. She blends her own tunes into conversational stories that pop and percolate. Stylianou is as loose and graceful as her musicians and the album unfolds with breezy buoyancy.” ”