So I'd never heard of Lilla D'Mone either. But that made stumbling upon the 21-year-old's debut
album "Music Trance" all the more startling. At first the glossy, Shakira meets J-Lo good looks of
the cover were deceiving. Another label-made flash-in-the- pan, I thought. An American Idol
cover-girl with a market-tested studio machine behind her. Ten years from now I'll be flipping
through used CD's at a yard sale, find "Music Trance" and wonder out loud to my buddy whatever
happened to Lilla D'Mone. But then I actually played the disc.
This girl's from Portland, OR -- home of...exactly no one. From a clean slate Lilla D'Mone has built
a lush R&B, neo-soul album quite literally with her own two hands. In addition to writing and
singing, she plays keys, guitars and contributes to production. The result is a diverse yet cohesive
sound nodding simultaneously to Philadelphia, LA and New York. On tracks like "Forever and a Day,"
the spare yet sultry backing track is a perfect host to D'Mone's confessional, Badu-esque,
schoolyard sass. Meanwhile "Sitchiations" and "Dirty Money" bear the mark of Jill Scott's Philly
The production is spot-on with dramatic, sweeping strings and tasty horn stabs. While clean and
headphone-tested, the album has a warm, organic flavor dating back to pre-digital times. Even the
sorely overused chimes are forgivable when bolstered by a live drum kit. She must be doing something
right for Talib Kweli to take interest. He lends a touch of lyricism to the upbeat "Music Feat." But
unlike with most celebrity cameos, D'Mone doesn't let him steal the show. "Music Trance" is the
Lilla D'Mone show. It's only a matter of time before she's granting similar favors.