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Amber Mark - Conexão EP Music Album Reviews

Amber Mark - Conexão EP Music Album Reviews
The New York singer’s casually elegant EP is remarkably accomplished. Even at just four songs, Amber Mark sounds like a veteran of pop songcraft and performance.

Before settling in New York as a teenager, Amber Mark lived around the world, bouncing between Miami, Berlin, and India; she’s someone for whom the exotic and exceptional have become commonplace. It’s a life of envy, and not just because you imagine her beholding foreign skylines and dipping her toes in the ocean. Immersing herself in other cultures and enduring the drudgery of intercontinental travel helped her grow up a little faster than the average early twenty-something. Her grounded, global perspective makes her sound settled, even as she flits in the space between genres, and it’s the foundation of the casual elegance that defines Conexão, her magnetic new EP.

Mark’s 2017 debut 3:33 AM traced her grieving process after her mother’s death, with each track reflecting a different emotional dimension. Conexão doesn’t bear the same thematic weight—it’s all about garden-variety “love drama,” in Mark’s words—but it’s reinforced by its own narrative arc. The title track captures the instant when sparks start to fly, transcending time and space; it sounds like two strangers meeting each other’s gaze across a dimly lit hotel bar. She explores a relationship that’s started losing its heat across “Love Me Right” and a poignant cover of Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride.” By the time she reaches “All the Work,” she’s gently but firmly rejecting an ex who’s crawled back after seeing her thrive.

Following a relationship from bloom to bust isn’t a novel concept, but it’s enlivened by Mark’s emotional nuance and attention to detail. “Love Me Right” isn’t an ultimatum or an explosive list of demands: It’s a pained request, a last-ditch effort from someone who sees the good in her relationship but just isn’t satisfied. She reaches a breaking point when her partner’s inattentiveness leads to self-doubt: “Or is it just me? Am I not what you want?/’Cause if that’s the case, baby, why lead me on?” Her vocals are agile but conversational, as if she’s posing rhetorical questions to a close friend over a weekday lunch. When she navigates an electric key change a few minutes later, it feels like the all-too-familiar moment when a heated discussion morphs into a full-blown romantic crisis.

Her musical choices are just as subtle. Conexão is the Portuguese word for “connection,” and Mark spends much of the EP playing with the rhythms and instrumentation of bossa nova. She makes her intentions clear by undergirding the title track with a classic, sensual beat, but Conexão doesn’t dip into gimmickry. The sounds of bossa nova are building blocks in her hands, tools that can ever-so-slightly modify R&B, pop, and dance music. When “All the Work” transforms into sleek pop-house upon reaching its chorus, it does so from an unexpected position; adding skittering layers of rhythm gives “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” roots Sade’s version lacked.

These little touches may not seem important in isolation, but a resonant turn of phrase here and a measured vocal take there add up to something like trust: You listen to an artist and feel like you’re in capable hands. Mark’s career is just beginning, but Conexão rings with the grace and looseness you’d expect from a veteran’s genre exercise. She’s always been ahead of the curve, why stop now?

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