One of the most compelling recordings to come out is on Rene Marie’s stellar "Vertigo" CD.
The singer-songwriter transforms an a cappella "Dixie" into an unlikely, but powerful, introduction to her beautiful version of "Strange Fruit," the haunting jazz classic about a lynching.
When Marie first performed this risky combination at a Mississippi club, the audience initially didn’t know how to react. By the time she sang the last note, the crowd was on its feet. And after the show, audience members were approaching Marie to share their experiences of racism.
Few performers have the ability to not only entertain, but to be thought provoking. Marie does both.
She has an expressive voice that moves fluidly from one note to another. She can let out a growl when needed or treat a lyric with a playful touch. It’s always true.
Marie returned to singing after taking time off to raise her children. "Vertigo" is her second release on the MAXJAZZ label's acclaimed vocal series.
The "Dixie/Strange Fruit" recording is the album’s standout, but there isn’t a bad tune on the CD. "Vertigo" perfectly showcases Marie’s versatility. She opens with the standard "Them There Eyes," featuring a great scat. Next comes a sexy version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" followed by her own ballad "I’d Rather Talk About You" filled with several catchy lines, including "Greenspan and his interest rates/ Can’t say I really care/No, no, no/I’d rather talk about you." It is one of three original songs on the album. The 11-song CD ends with an innovative and stylish cover of the Beatles’ "Blackbird."
Marie’s appealing voice, songwriting skills and daring interpretations make her an artist to watch.
This recording is highly recommended.