Despite his considerable credentials as a guitarist, composer and teacher, Colin Tommis doesn't make an appearance on his latest release, except as the writer of 10 brand new songs which he offers to "song-starved singers who have run out of good material to cover."
The material here, demonstrated by a four different singers fronting piano trios led by Huy Warren, is good, indeed, good enough to provide a challenge to even the best of singers. The lyrics are intriguingly witty, using themes and imagery that may stray from the mainstream, but with a degree of quirkiness that works to Tommis' advantage, in the same way similar stylings by, say, Cole Porter once did. Tommis takes additional liberties in the construction of melodies and phrasing, which serves to keep the songs well on the jazz side of the pop spectrum.
There's not a great deal of information offered about the performers themselves (though their names lead me to imagine that Tommis turned largely to friends and neighbors from near his home in Wales), but each makes a distinctive contribution, making the album considerably more than a simple showcase of new songs.
Whether you're one of those "song-starved singers" or simply a jazz buff in search of fine performances of strong new material, The Cat Lover is an album worth your attention.