We've been blessed with some amazing female jazz vocal albums this year, and this is another to add to the collection. The album is comprised of twelve songs composed by the wonderful lyricist, Fran Landesman, in conjunction with pianist - and Sarah Moule's husband - Simon Wallace. Landesman is still best known for writing songs like Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most and The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men, but her writing was always exemplary, with a subtle, literary feel to her songs that adds a real depth. She formed an amazing bond with Wallace, and the two of them got together every week for the best part of twenty years, writing over 300 songs together.
Ten of the twelve songs here are previously unrecorded. You might be forgiven for wondering if the quality might dip on some of the unreleased songs, but they're all absolute gems that reveal more with each listen. Are We Just Having Fun? addresses a serious question that we have all faced at one time or another, the magnificent A Magician's Confession, who confesses that "he can't bring back the snows of yesteryear", and the amazing On Hold/Living In Limbo, two songs that blend seamlessly and deserve to be better known.
Listen to On Hold/Living In Limbo here:
On every song, there are wonderful one-liners; on Truly Unruly, for example: "Let’s give way to desire, you can thrill me to tears, Let’s be wayward and wanton without fears."
These songs must be a joy for a singer to interpret, and Moule delivers a masterclass, her warm, velvety voice bringing each song to life, and sounding effortless across a range of emotions and tempos.
She is helped, of course, by some fitting arrangement by Wallace, and a fine band. The band is comprised of Simon Wallace on piano, Mick Hutton on double bass, Paul Robinson on drums, for the most part at least - although Neville Malcom plays bass on four tracks, with Rod Youngs on drums. There are also appearances by Nigel Price on guitar and Mark Lockheart, who delivers a fine soprano sax solo on Close To Tears - another highlight.
These songs were written over a period of eighteen years, and include the first and last songs that Landesman and Wallace wrote together; hopefully there are some more unreleased songs to look forward to next time around. Highly recommended.
The CD is out now on 33 Jazz, and will be available for download from 3rd May.