Reviews 11-12-2005  

Music Reviews 


Lost and Found

by Judith Owen

Visit Judith Owen's website

Not new to the music scene, Judith Owen has movie tracks and previous CDs to her credit.  But on this CD, Ms. Owen’s breaks out the jazz with some kicky renditions of some classics, original works and sultry interpretations of classic rock pieces with help from the likes of Tom Scott, Cassandra Wilson and Keb Mo.  This is Hot Jazz, cool to the touch and strong like a good shot of fine aged scotch.  

Ms. Owen’s voice has all the classic elements of a night club singer crooning her way into your presence; strong, sexy, smoky and very enjoyable.  The phrasing reminds you sometimes of Joni Mitchell, but the style is all hers.  As she takes you through the various jazz pieces or her interpretation of some very familiar rock songs, her voice carries a torch, or expresses the emotion of a woman who loves jazz and knows how to make it come across with the impact of a velvet covered train wreck. 

As I wandered through the tracks, each one was a surprise, each one eloquent in the approach and style and none of them were a disappointment.  Her voice has a range that could cover songs like the classic Police song
“Walking on the Moon” or run up and down the scales as in “Famous Friends”.   

Joni Mitchell’s influences are evident in the track “Train Out of Hollywood” which features Keb’ Mo’ and this is one of the most outstanding tracks on the CD.   A very dynamic composition with Ms. Owens making it kick up and demand attention. 

I liked her sultry interpretation of “Smoke on the Water”, a Deep Purple tune that goes from rock to jazz and never falters.  Ms. Owens interpretation is exceptional, and you will be surprised at the end result. 

“These Foolish Things” is a classic, made more so by the smooth vocals Ms. Owen lends to this piece, as well as the emotional expressions in her voice. 

Emotion is key here.  Not only does Ms. Owen sing, or phrase, but she injects emotional expressions that give each piece impact and sometimes a ripping at the heart strings.  This is especially noticeable on tracks like
“Down” and “Emily”.  “Emily” is another stand out track, with kicking vocals and melody.   

While there are some tracks with full orchestra, piano is her companion in much of this music, and it allows her voice to come on strong, or it softens so she can emphasize the phrasing.  “Famous Friends” is an excellent example, working the piano then breaking into vocal backups while still allowing Ms. Owens voice to shine. 

“Sky High” with Tom Scott is just the right touch of jazz with the right feeling and expression of vocals.  Probably my choice for another “outstanding track” on this work. 

“Bridges” is a Latin jazz piece that enables Ms. Owen to show another side and expressiveness to her vocals.  Just the right amount of beat to pick up the pace, but still the expression and smoothness to her voice that makes this piece work. 

“Enough” features a duet with Cassandra Wilson, and this piece is smokin’!  Two female jazz singers taking a tune and making it a knockout!  Smooth, hot and just what the doctor ordered to cure your blues.  Another outstanding track on this collection. 

The final track of “Night and Day” with Richard Thompson on guitar is a classic.  All Ms. Owen needs is a guitar, but the addition of a Latin beat and orchestra makes this a closing track to remember and leave you wanting more. 

There is a bonus track included, from the film “P.S.” called “Dreaming”.  It keeps within the jazz genre, and is a lovely composition, again calling upon Ms. Owen to implant her emotion filled vocals into some heady lyrics and misty music.  A nice addition to this CD and nicely done by Ms. Owen. 

If you love jazz female vocalists, as I do, Judith Owen is sure to please.  If you like torch songs or new interpretations of old material, this CD is going to delight you.  This lady has talent, a real show stopper, and she is not to be missed. mafoster

Reviewed by M.A. Foster

 

Tough on Crime

by Rebecca Pidgeon

Visit Rebecca Pidgeon's website

Rebecca Pidgeon is not a newcomer to the public eye.  She has appeared in the movie “Heist” and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.   But she has been singing since she was a teen, and has releases previous to this CD. 

But this is her first new work in six years, and while her previous releases may be illusive, this one highlights her light yet attention grabbing vocals and her ability to write songs that fall into a mix of jazz or folk. 

The CD packaging itself presents photos of the artist, with “hand written” track titles, production credits and lyrics.  While being artistic, they were a bit difficult to read, and I resorted to the press package. 

But it’s the material inside on the disk that grabbed my attention.  Her vocals are serene, subtle, like floating silk.  Most of her tracks on this CD fall into the “jazz” genre and were for the most part impressive like a club singer that stands before the mike wearing a dress that sparkles like her voice.  Harmonies are classic in style and only add to the wonderful presentation of the pieces.   

There is a mix in of folk styled rhythms with soft and sultry jazz pieces.  Both genre seem to mix for the most part, with a few exceptions.  You get an impression of a softer “Cheryl Crow” in the title track “Tough on Crime” while presented with the “sexy night club singer” in “Tangerine”.  “Ordinary Blues” takes on a very definite “Steely Dan” feel but with more subtlety.  The addition of Billy Preston on keys and Walter Becker probably adds to that feel in these tracks.   

The production values by Larry Klein are smooth, professional and tight!  The music is expertly woven to enhance Ms. Pidgeon’s softer vocals and bring out the best in her music.  “Candid Lady” is an outstanding example of good production and excellent mixing to bring out the vocal work, as is “Tangerine”.   

The lyrics are intriguing, sometimes resourceful in their content.  She phrases them well, and they are understandable as she sings them.  Topics range from “gambling ladies” to a lady of the evening in a “Tangerine” dress, to cops to sensational magazines.  They all seem to have a common theme, that being some kind of association with crime.   

Not every track is a winner.  “Learn to Pray”, the opening track, seemed lackluster in comparison to some of the other tracks, having a “folksy” feel to it.    While I liked “Nasty Guy” it came off a bit soft where it could have taken some hard, strong vocals.   The horn made up for some of it, but the lyrical content seemed to call for an “angry woman” type of vocalization. 

“Magazine” discusses people types in the headline news, and has a catchy line in the lyrics.  Nice melody as well, very likable composition.  “Cigarette” again returns the “Steeley Dan” feel with a mystery criminal smoker as the theme.   

“The Romance of Everyday Life” has a very jazzy appeal, old fashioned story of love at first sight and the catching of the same.  The closing track “Come Back to Sorrento” is upbeat and slightly jazzy, recalling a time of love remembered.  

There is a bonus track “Army Brat” which is most definitely folk/country in feel, some interesting lyrics about being an “Army Brat” with a catchy tune, but seemed out of place here. 

Rebecca Pidgeon has some interesting music and vocals on this CD.  I found the tracks I liked I really liked, but there were a couple of tracks that were uninspiring or not in tune with the rest of the feel of the CD.  There is a definite feel of “Steely Dan” to the production of the music, but the lyrics and vocals are all Ms. Pidgeon’s.  Her voice works well with the sultry pieces but some of her compositions seemed to be calling for something a bit stronger.     

I liked her style, her compositions overall were well developed and her lyrics are noteworthy, keeping with the theme of the CD and even having some memorable lines.  This is a nice introduction to Ms. Pidgeon I look forward to this developing into future presentations. mafoster

Reviewed by M.A. Foster

 

Return Home