'When the Lights Go Out' starts the set. Written during World War Two, it is a wistful musing during the blackout experiences in which houses were kept dark as bombers flew above. She hopes that "rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above, our kiss won't mean goodbye but hello to love." Lincoln wrings each word dry longing for the end of the nightmare years of destruction. 'Blackberry Blossoms' evokes a dreamy, child-like wonder of gathering fruit from the bramble bushes. 'Lucky to Be Me' is transformed from an uplifting, light tune from the 1940s Broadway musical and Gene Kelly movie, "On the Town." to a dark, introspective soliloquy. Michel Legrand's 'Windmills of Your Mind' is better known from the movie, "The Thomas Crown Affair." The swagger in her voice and the growl in Joe Lovano's saxophone work beautifully to bring this internal monologue of inevitable change alive.
Lincoln's own songs convey her feelings more directly. In 'I Could Sing It for a Song,' she laments life hasn't been easy because "I got the dirty deal, broken shoes for walkin', wings that never fit.... " Lincoln remarks that the eerie ballad, 'A Heart Is Not a Toy,' is "disillusionment in the name of love." The charged lyrics of 'I'm Not Supposed to Know' are bleak: "How much you need to hold me close to kill me, how much you need to take my breath away, but I know I'm not supposed to really love you still and all I love you anyway."
At seventy years old, Abbey Lincoln is a wise woman who has experienced the many facets of love and life. At times, the words and her singing can be emotionally charged. There is however humanity and profoundness in the way she sings. Her husky-even bitterly lusty-vocals convey an acknowledgement and affirmation of what has transpired over the years.
This is an extraordinary album by a remarkable artist.