In a concurrent critique of Kate Miller-Heidke's Nightflight (here), I make mention of Annie Lennox's gorgeous Medusa as a noteworthy release of semi-symphonic beauty, a CD the listener is compelled to return to with fair frequency. In more ways than one, Alison Wedding's This Dance is cousin to Lennox's disc but in completely different terrain. Take Remain, a wistful but jumping south of the border inflected cut, replete with punctuatorial strings. It's well-grounded even amid Chris Potter's leaping sax lines because Wedding's light and breezy voice coheres the 9-piece ensemble in a skyblown recitation completely sketching out its internal environment, confining everything to a well defined autumn sentiment within a late summer song.
Wedding credits collaboration with musical allsorts Michael League as the key factor in fully fleshing out a desire to create something enduring while universal, and that's another aspect similar to Lennox's CD. The artfulness and literacy of each track indeed speak of working to pull the fabric of music up another notch, not to promote its often too facile complacencies in jingles and TV product hype elsewhere. Cue in Anyone but You and the swirling intro sonics make the relation clearer as the mournful duet with Theo Bleeckmann co-exists quite happily with Annie's heart tugs and quailing remembrances. However, if you think the allusions to the Eurhythmics chanteuse might be a tad stretched, do this: try playing any cut from this CD right after any track from hers. Though the two carry marked surface differences, the ambiances and intents match rather well.
There's also an aptness in the selection of Blue Note's Lionel Loueke and ECM's Potter, as This Dance has a noticeable austerity amid some pretty lush environments. No better place is this seen than in We'll Know, where, besides Wedding's lonely Sistine Chapel vocals, Zach Brock's baritone violin defines things in a mid-section solo…but, oh, those sung lines, especially at the closing! Then segue into Up in Smoke with it's simulsynched Alison Chorus and delicate lead lines, brightening the disc once again, and you begin to appreciate that there's a lot more here than a surface listen will ever reveal. Pay attention. You'll be happy you did. I did, I am.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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