The 12-track CD features a wide range of material. Carroll’s formidable skills are evident as she puts a new spin on old standards, covers contemporary pop tunes and performs an original number. Sound like another popular Brit? Jamie Cullum has earned a big following in the United States with a similarly diverse repertoire. While Cullum injects a brash rock ’n’ roll attitude in everything he does, Carroll stays closer to the jazz tradition.
She kicks off the CD with a buoyant version of "That Old Black Magic," complete with an extended scat. She then slows the pace on "The Briar And The Rose," a Tom Waits ballad. Her next tune is a full-band version of her own "Three Sheets To The Wind."
"Eleanor Rigby" then gets a jazz treatment by Carroll, who provides some soulful singing for "all the lonely people." She recorded the CD at Abbey Road studios.
On Standard Issue, Carroll covers several compositions by a holy trinity of women songwriters from the folk-rock genre. She performs back-to-back Laura Nyro songs - the high-spirited "California Shoeshine Boys" and then the slower and even better "He’s A Runner." It’s one of the album’s high points. She also performs Carole King’s "You’ve Got A Friend." The song has been done to death, but Carroll, who shares vocal duties with Ian Shaw, still delivers a very pleasant rendition that succeeds by managing to be fresh without straying too far from the original version. The singers are accompanied by piano for the first half of the song, but the tune then takes a surprise turn when other instruments join in and turn the number into a brief jam. Carroll also performs Janis Ian’s touching "At Seventeen." Much like Ian did, Carroll lets the pointed words stand on their own without much vocal embellishment.
Carroll also delivers a delightful version of the Gershwin classic "They Can’t Take That Away From Me." Her singing and piano playing have an easy, graceful bounce that make the song a natural fit. She throws in another nice scat here.
The album closes with a stripped-down rendition of the old Gloria Lynne chestnut "I Wish You Love." While Lynne's version was big and showy, Carroll elects a simple, quiet approach.
Carroll, who has a low, dusky voice, doesn’t over sing a number. She masterfully strikes the emotional chord in each song.
The album is co-produced by David Hentschel (Yellowjackets, Genesis and Elton John), Carroll and Neal Richardson.
Standard Issue is highly recommended.