FAME Review: Ellen LaFurn - C'Est La-Furn
Ellen LaFurn - C'Est La-Furn

C'Est La-Furn

Ellen LaFurn

Invite Records 1001

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

C'est La Furn is not a Carnegie Hall recital but rather townie piano bar music for frazzled careerists and, sweet Jesus!, could I ever have used it in the 70s and 80s after knocking off for the day in the SoCal aerospace community, sprinting for drinks and much needed stress relief at a favored watering hole or two along Hawthorne Boulevard (Torrance, though it could just as well have been Mars). Casual but well cohered, C'est is a baker's dozen of standards delivered in knowing and sympathetic fashion by a woman who understands what's what, enveloping the listeners in a warm wistful haze of past reminiscence and present hope. And when I say 'piano bar', I mean 'not totally professional but quite satisfying because of that', the sort of milieu that makes one's favorite pub so enjoyable, regulars taking in the music from someone who's one of them, not a distant, airbrushed, over-polished TV or radio star.

The band doubles up on that sense, first mellowing out to ensconce the audience in a friendly set of atmospherics, then, in cuts like Cherokee, getting amped up and boppy, frisky while grinning from ear to ear. Pianist/producer Rave Tesar is the lead accompanist, but string twangler Vic Cenicola comes in a very close second, almost stealing the instrumental spotlight. In fact, the two work together beautifully, subtly so on my favorite cut, Dindi, as LaFurn dances the chestnut gently through its paces. I have a serious weak spot for that tune, and she turns it well, then tunes up Mancini's Days of Wine and Roses to a much happier ditty than is normally endowed, a sunny spunky cavort, lightfooting away from bourgeois cityscapes to lark about in the woods, boppin' 'n hoppin' with the meadowlarks and chipmonks.

C'est La Furn is another one of those CDs which needed a bit tougher production, however. Two or three more takes on several cuts would have elicited a higher degree of infra-song fidelity putting the shine more on La Furn's voice in the manner deserved (a good production guy is also a coach). Too, the band is very good but not always well balanced…by Tesar, who also recorded, mixed, and mastered the affair, in the process taking some of the glow off himself and Cenicola (who definitely needed better miking in a number of spots). As I mentioned, this is a piano bar milieu, not Carnegie Hall…but it could have been Coconut Grove.

Track List:

  • I Remember You (Mercer / Schertzinger)
  • So Nice (Summer Samba) (Gimbel / Valle / Valle)
  • I've Got the World on a String (Koehler / Arlen)
  • When Sunny Gets Blue (Segal / Fisher)
  • Cherokee (Ray Noble)
  • Teach Me Tonight (Cahn / dePaul)
  • It was a Very Good Year (Ervin Drake)
  • Girl Talk (Hefti / Troup)
  • I'll Take Romance (Oakland / Hammerstein)
  • I'm Old Fashioned (Kern / Mercer)
  • Dindi (Jobim / Gilbert / de Oliveira)
  • Watch What Happens (Legrand / Gimbel / Demy)
  • The Days of Wine and Roses (Mancini / Mercer)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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