Lucky's Boy is a 2011 release by veteran New England pianist Pamela Hines. Hines is joined by the stellar rhythm section of John Lockwood on bass and Les Harris, Jr. on drums. Also present is April Hall on vocals, whose bluesy style fits well with the proceedings. The entire set is devoted to Hines' originals.
Pamela Hines' songwriting tends toward the reflective, both lyrically and instrumentally. Ballads make up the bulk of this set, but even the more uptempo tunes have a thoughtful and pensive feel. That is not to say that this album is gloomy or depressing. Indeed, a clear and positive hope is present in all of these songs, it is just that Hines expresses her ideas calmly and carefully. An upside of this approach is that there is no falsely manufactured excitement on this recording; the songs create their own interest through subtle displays of virtuosity.
Hines has undeniable chops, but her solos always serve the music. Her playing is generally understated, but it is also evident that she possesses great range. "Dreamerman" and "Spectrum," for example, contain knotty, winding and harmonically complex solos, but even here her playing never loses its sense of direction or purpose.
There are many good songs here, but the album's closer, "Spectrum," stands out in particular. Despite the song's complicated rhythms and Hines' inquisitive soloing, the music always seems intuitive—a testament to Hines' confidence and complete command of her material. The musicians explore every corner of this difficult composition with daring and skill. Lesser musicians could have easily stifled this song, but the players here make it breathe and swing.
The lyrics, though always interesting rhythmically, can sometimes feel a bit awkward, as references to angels, starlight and newly fallen snow can seem a bit cliched. But this is a minor complaint. Because of Hines' sensitive playing and Hall's vocal interpretation, one never doubts the sincerity of the lyrics, so any shortcomings are quite easy to forgive. Furthermore, this album never relies on anything but Hines' compositional and instrumental talent, which is all over this recording.
For those looking for an original voice and emotional playing, who are perhaps a bit bored with blowing sessions and standards, this recording is for you. Recommended.