Some singers are vocalists, others are vocalist-musicians, and some, not many, are musicians. Kris Adams belongs among the lattermost, there's no doubt about that as the lead-in cut to Longing, the Towner/Winstone The Glide, more than amply demonstrates. She doesn't just start singing but flows in between the instruments as the intro releases into the song's main theme. And all through Glide, she continues in form, free and easy as a bird on a summer's breeze, later breaking into a skoobly-op scat gambol. Joni Mitchell's Dawntreader receives a more conservative treatment yet still sounds as though delivered by french horn or cor anglais. Unsurprising, then, that Adams chose trumpeter and flugelhorn player Greg Hopkins to arrange the lion's share of cuts, infusing everything with a fusion-chamber ambience.
I think it's the way Kris mutes the hard edges of her repertoire that most marks her territory. As the promo lit notes, she's a storyteller as well as a musician, and the troubadoric mode needs to pull listeners along in a flowline that's not too bumpy lest they turn away; leave that to heavy metal and the rockier shores of prog. Adams' blending of jazz and folk leavens both into one another so that they lay back and learn from each other. Almost every song shows this, though the slant is heavily jazz favored. Still, cuts like Wrong Together slip in and out of the even more elder folk modes like a cat through shadows. Even Hopkins' trumpet solo sounds like a hip court envoy explicating to dukes and their ladies.
Adams' own Pulled Pork is a Carla Bley-ish ditty, with BBQ down-homeyness wreaked within a tasty proletariannaise sauce, her inflections saxophonic whether encanting lyrics or double-bopping with the trumpet, and Cole Porter's All of You takes on a whole new spirit, both explicitly erotic and girl-next-doorish simultaneously. In the mid-section, Kris turns to favor Flora Purim in a much more Brazilianized melisma than elsewhere in the disc; energy and élan permeate the cut but really let loose in the end segment. Tim Ray turns in some great piano work but stands out more than ever in Once Upon a Summertime, the engineer embedding his performance three-dimensionally. So if you find yourself longing for a bit of Flora, Norma Winstone, Annette Peacock, Lani Hall, and similarly free-spirited singers, now you know where to go.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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