The only problem with 'Grace' is a very obvious one: When Z and her nimble rhythm section - Bobbie Rae - drums, percussion and bassist Chris J. Luard - give themselves over to the atmospheric melodicism of their trio playing, there is no one else in the room. You are locked into their telepathy and empathy. Cobain's Come as You Are and U2's One reveal stunning levels of depth and clarity.
But when this gifted artist gets behind her piano and sings, despite the haunted beauty of her voice, the trio's affinity, and the moody lyricism of Moon in Your Hair and Grace, icons enter the room, namely Kate Bush (whom Z covers here with an ethereal take on This Woman's Work), Tori Amos and Laura Nyro. Not bad company to keep mind you, but distracting for an artist deservedly on the rise who doesn't need any comparisons.
By no means am I trying to imply that an artist this versatile and visionary (she has toured with Peter Gabriel; performed with Al DiMeola, Tony Levin, Larry Coryell; and served as musical director for Wayne Shorter) be locked into one musical style over another. What I am saying is what I said: Comparisons become an odd competition within critic circles, and audiences alike, to name influences, possibly distracting and distancing those involved from Z's intimate musical experience.
ps: May I also recommend other Rachel Z recordings, notably her Joni Mitchell jazz tribute Moon At The Window; her all Wayne Shorter disc On The Milky Way Express and Everlasting.
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