Take note of Rebecca Martin. With "Middlehope," her new collection of ballads, she is poised to win over both folk and jazz listeners.
Martin, a singer-songwriter who has toured with Shawn Colvin and Emmylou Harris, has a storyteller’s knack for interpreting lyrics. Like her folk sisters, she naturally settles into the subtleties of a song. Listen to the opening line from the Rodgers and Hart classic "Bewitched." Martin is both young and weary as she sings, "He’s a fool, and don’t I know it." Her honey-and-whiskey voice delivers a kick to even the most familiar of songs.
Her crossover appeal will no doubt lead to comparisons to Norah Jones, who’s been caught in a "is she or isn’t she jazz" debate. The two singers even share a song - Jesse Harris’ "One Flight Down." The gentle pop number can be heard on both "Middlehope" and Jones’ hit CD "Come Away With Me."
While both women blur musical boundaries, Martin’s effort is a solid jazz album with fresh takes on "The Midnight Sun," "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehn?" and "Dindi." She's already earned the praise of jazz stalwarts Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau.
Recorded in one day, the album features Steve Cardenas and Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitars; Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone; Larry Grenadier, bass; and Jorge Rossy, drums.
"Middlehope" is a gem.