Carmen Lundy has recorded, once again, a Justin Time CD of songs that are connected thematically to subjects of importance to her, Something to Believe In.
This time, the subject is, unabashedly, love, in its various manifestations. The last time, on This Is Carmen Lundy,
it was loneliness and abandonment. Carmen Lundy’s attitude sure has improved in the two years between the two albums.
Ever since she started her professional singing career in the late 1970’s, Lundy has shown a creative restlessness that has led her to pursue various art forms--including singing, arranging, painting and acting--all of which have converged recently into a singular aesthetic force that stresses the positive aspects of humanity. So, even though, as expected, "It Might As Well Be Spring" stresses the giddiness of infatuation, Lundy also covers love of one’s children in "A Gift of Love," a statement of belief in the importance of ceaseless, unconditional nurturing. Or she writes her own statement of prelapsarian innocence with "Wild Child," wherein a trip to an imaginary tropical island leads to self-discovery and release of the "wild child" within everyone.
Once again, Lundy puts to work her talent for composition by writing songs that reinforce the message of her CD, as she did, most notably, on This Is Carmen Lundy,
whose theme found expression in darker song titles like "Now That He’s Gone," "Send Me Somebody to Love" or "Better Luck Next Time," not to mention "Seventh Heaven," dedicated to her deceased friend, Kenny Kirkland. Six of Something to Believe In’s
ten songs are those she wrote. And some of them were written with such balladic symmetry and emotional appeal that they sound familiar the first time they are heard. "Vu Ja De," with its monosyllabic tongue-twisting lyrics reminiscent of frim-fram sauce, sounds as if it could be from the Nat Cole songbook, but no, Lundy is listed as its composer. And the opening track, "In Love Again," bubbles over as an irrepressible exclamation put to music, and the lyrics immediately connect with the listener.
Once again, Lundy has surrounded herself with her musician friends (brother Curtis playing on bass and enlisted as producer). The tightness of the back-up group enhances the effectiveness of Lundy’s performance even further. Mark Shim, in particular, stands out when he solos in the middle of some of Lundy’s songs, double-timing the bridge of "I’m in Love Again" in a flurry of notes. Jazz violinist Regina Carter appears on two tracks as well, and her contributions to "Moody’s Mood for Love" are such that she changes the feel of the piece, making it more fragile and quieter than it would have been otherwise.
In the end, though, the finely developed qualities of Lundy’s voice remain after the CD has finished playing: her articulation and range on "I Loves You Porgy," her growing intensity during the multi-layered arrangement of "Windmills of Your Mind," her delicacy on "Something to Believe In" as she is accompanied by Anthony Wonsey’s piano only. Warm and convincing, Lundy’s voice becomes the instrument, the channel, through which she conveys her own deeply held beliefs, positing some things to believe in. And so her recordings have formed a continuous body of work elaborating upon themes that have been important to her throughout her recording career as they have marked her growth as an artist. Something to Believe In
marks the culmination of that growth.
Until Carmen Lundy records her next album.