CD review: Liane Carroll

balladsBallads
(Quiet Money Recordings QMR0002CD)

There are those jazz singers who add a lot of decoration and fool about with the time in an extreme way, and accentuate the voice and the music to the detriment of the lyric and the message of the song. And there are those who sing it pretty straight and keep the fancy stuff under control. The first group are generally younger than the latter group in my experience.

Liane Carroll gets it exactly right – the melody, the lyric, the message, all come through with even more clarity and focus than perhaps we have heard in previous versions of even the most well-worn songs, and the rich bluesy tone which has just a tinge of Abbey Lincoln about it is very much her own, and inimitable.

This album, like its equally classy predecessor, Up And Down, is produced by trumpeter James McMillan, and ranges from minimal instrumental support of classical guitar to full big band setting. Carroll’s presence is so strong and the arrangements so supportive that despite the wide range of instrumentation the album has a lovely cohesion about it.

Liane Carroll

Liane Carroll

And the songs are just as impeccably chosen as they are performed: Here’s To Life is the perfect opener, Goodbye and Only The Lonely are solid gold, and My One And Only Love, which stands for me as the greatest song in the Great American Songbook, is given a wondrous interpretation here.

There is the lesser-known but very special song like Todd Rundgren’s Pretending To Care (previously well covered by Jennifer Warnes and Ian Shaw) which may just have had its definitive reading, and there is the wild-card choice of Buddy Holly’s Raining In My Heart as a grand-standing finale.

All round, it’s another triumph and, taken together, Up And Down and Ballads sound like the best ever Liane Carroll recordings.



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