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Love is Blue by Jackie Allen

Love is Blue is a ballad heavy collection in keeping with the recent vogue of female jazz/pop vocal hybrids. Jackie Allen, who has proven her ability to handle traditional jazz with her previous releases, proves to a capable interpreter of crossover material as well. Her sultry vocals and some outstanding playing and arrangements from her band never fail to get the most out of (and in a few cases transcend) the material on the CD.

The opener "Lazy Afternoon" sets the tone for the album, with Allen's breathy vocal, Frank Glover's prancing clarinet and guitarist John Moulder's use of harmonics drawing out the song's playful sense of mystery. Allen's original composition "Go" is delivered in a sultry voice that at times resembles a less stoned Rickie Lee Jones. As elsewhere on the CD, Laurence Hobgood's jazzy piano comping gives the tune depth and keeps the proceedings honest. Allen sounds downright seductive on the Brazilian influenced "The Entertainer," drummer Dane Richeson's use of hand percussion helping to sell the tune. The title track is a sparse ballad recalling Joni Mitchell's similarly colored work a little bit and again highlighted by Hobgood's playing. Other highlights include keyboardist Rob Mathes' and Richeson's jazzy arrangement of Annie Lennox's "Pavement Cracks" and the bossa-nova tinged "You Become My Song," credited to Bobby Hutcherson and bassist Hans Sturm. Sturm's "Turnin' Round" is a funky mix of wordplay and dissonance that seems influenced by Adrian Belew-era King Crimson; Allen delivers the vocal with sexiness and sass, but the lyric gets just a little to cute for comfort.

Love is Blue is a rewarding listen, though the disc might've benefited from the presence of a few up-tempo numbers to break things up--the moods change but the intensity doesn't so much. And one or two real jazz numbers wouldn't have been a bad thing. Still, this is a worthy addition to the recent groundswell of female vocal jazz/pop crossover releases and puts Jackie Allen near the head of the class.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jackie Allen
  • CD Title: Love is Blue
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: A440 Music Group
  • Rating: Three Stars
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