Y'know…it's getting impossible to keep up with all the talent that keeps cropping up in ever increasing numbers nation-wide and world-wide. I mean, I'm all for technology and populism in ways and means, not to mention the listener's new ability to drown blissfully in an ocean of art, but, well, take Jackie Ryan as just one instance. I'd never even heard her name, but music PR guy Mike Bloom has exquisite taste and posts me stuff that knocks my ears off on a regular basis, here as powerfully as elsewhere, and I never know what to expect next. Ryan is top drawer professional and jazzily perfectionistic to a 'T', polished and vibrant, able to combine smooth delivery with almost unnerving confidence, and when Chris Loudon of Jazz Times notes she's "one of the outstanding jazz vocalists of her generation and quite possibly of all time", the praise at first seems excessive…but it ain't, not at all.
The musicians here are sensitive, elegant, and never once take the foreground away, which preserves the Broadway / cabaret / nightclub / jazz hall vibe of the entire affair…but there's a very important presence the crits are overlooking: Joel Moss, a legendary figure on the tech side of the house and, man o man, he outdoes himself here, catching every note, chord, and overtone with consummate grace and discretion. Especially with a voice as embracing as Ryan's, this is exceedingly important, that ability to shift atmospheric coloration and emotional hues, among other virtues. I doubt Jackie could find a better entablature in each and every cut in any other hands. Listen Here is audiophile quality in all ways.
Try as I might, I can't find a way to overthrow Loudon's estimation. Jackie Ryan's one of the greats, no two ways about it. This is her seventh release, and it's time the rest of the world caught up. Perhaps this will be the disc to garner the broad platform she very much deserves. If not, then, hell, you too can be an insider and get in on the secret cabal before she finally catches the right Hollywood ear and goes BIG time. Traveling back to my opening statement, the explosion of avenues into music has created a previously undreamt-of paradise for the sonic arts, but, no matter how many or how few may enjoy residence in the burgeoning field, the exceptional will always stand out.
My favorite cut? Perhaps it's because I just got done reviewing Emy Tseng's marvelous Sonho (here), but Ryan's version of La Puerta knocked me backwards, melting into the floor, a beautifully stripped-down duet between her and guitarist Graham Dechter that lays naked the subtleties and melodiousness of her talent. Regardless, each cut here is its own world…and kudos as well to John Ballard and Coconut Moon for the great tri-fold packaging; very nice indeed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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