Sunday, November 20, 2011
Solid Seasonal Songbirds
They come out swingin' with the big-band richness of "Hollywoood," an original song displaying their delightful harmonies. It immediately made me relax, feeling this would be a completely enjoyable and professionally proficient experience, and my hunch was proved right.
Part of the Puppini magic lies in the fact that everything they cover gets a distinctly 1930s/40s treatment, whether it's "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" or Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" or The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian." On last year's grand Christmas cd, they did an incredible swing makeover of Elton John's "Step Into Christmas." The gals are smart, sassy and full of serio-comic irony. There's a sly sweetness to their endeavors.
So much I admired on "Hollywood": A bang-up production by Fred DeFaye, the ingenious use of the theremin (frequently reserved for adding eerie effect to sci-fi and horror film scores) on "Moon River," and an exquisite choice of songs generally.
You can download "Hollywood" from Amazon.com, but you can buy it at stores (Barnes & Noble, for example) & get the very nice booklet of liner notes and artwork.
An exquisite choice of songs has, certainly, always been the forte of romantic balladeer Judy Collins' albums for decades. Her latest cd, "Bohemian" is not any exception.
She opens with a haunting, self-penned tune entitled "Morocco" and follows that by including a Joni Mitchell song, "Cactus Tree." Judy has famously covered Joni before ("Both Sides Now," "Chelsea Morning") and so it's touching to have her dulcitly interpret Ms Mitchell once more. Collins has sung this live for years but here she is joined by Shawn Colvin and the harmony is oh so sweet.
Other Collins favorites like Jimmy Webb, Woody Guthrie and Jacques Brel are embraced on this cd and interpreted with great heart and voice. Collins' songs about her son, Clark's suicide ("Wings of Angels") and her mother's death from Alzheimer's ("In the Twilight") are beautifully heartbreaking, as is Collins' final number, "Big Sur." The 72-year-old singer therein reflects on her mortality:
"Please pray for me, you padres of the ocean/
pray I find my heart among the waves./
For freedom's left me panting for the bondage,/
and you can see the life beyond the grave."
Again, available for download but the cd comes with a pamphlet of recommended liner notes, art & credits you might want to have.