Fawn Fritzen – Bedroom Voice

I’ve got to admit, first thing I thought of when I saw the title of this album was a flashback to Mom talking about my “outdoor voice” and my “indoor voice.” As a child, I never learned about a “bedroom voice,” even from Dad’s talks about birds and bees.  That came later.

On a different topic altogether, what Dad did say was that sometimes to command attention, you need to speak softly.

Fawn Fritzen - Bedroom VoiceFawn Fritzen – Bedroom Voice
Released – March 26, 2013

This is a gentle recording, but it demands active listening. And because of that, I quickly came to appreciate the porcelain nature of Fawn Fritzen’s voice, full of subtle blues and honeyed desires. Of the title, Fawn Fritzen writes, “To me, it says quiet, sultry, and sensual. It speaks of love, perhaps of longing, perhaps loss. It speaks of emotion, deeply felt, but whispered.”

Four originals mingle well with six cover tunes here – nicely handcrafted, all of them. My favorite of the four is “I’m A Fool For You,” with hints of Crystal Gayle, especially when the stops get pulled out for the (relatively) big finish. Another favorite is the smoldering original “Under My Skin,” and its age old story of two loves and longing. The original “Life So Sweet” was an entry in CBC’s “Searchlight” competition for new Canadian talent.

Photo by Christian KuntzA nearly gospel version of Leonard Cohen’s prayerful “If It Be Your Will” also attracts my attention, and I found myself looking forward to the gossamer version of “The Gentle Rain,” performed in both English and impeccable German when it came around in the rotation.

A word about Daniel Janke, who co-produces the album, and performs in nearly all the tracks, on piano, organ and upright bass. He manages to thread the needle – and is both noticed and admired by perfectly framing Ms. Fritzen’s flawless performance.

Ms. Fritzen hails from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – where, in the winter, the average temperature at night is well below zero.

Except, perhaps, in the Fritzen household. Fawn is using her bedroom voice.

Highest recommenation for this outstanding debut.


Paula Cole is one of those artists whose work refuses to be classified. Is it folk? Is it jazz? Country? Doesn’t matter. It’s mostly all good. She raised $50K in a Kickstarter campaign last fall, in order to produce a new album (“Raven”) in a way that pleases only her.

And if this track is any indication, plenty of us, too. Release date is April 23.

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Emmy Rossum – Sentimental Journey

Emmy Rossum - Sentimental JourneyEmmy Rossum – Sentimental Journey
(Warner Bros.)

Released – January 2013

A more traditional release than the three-track EP actress Emmy Rossum released in 2007, this is a solid sophomore effort that deserves a listen.

Best known for a Golden Globe nomination for the 2009 film version of Phantom of the Opera, and a role in the Showtime television series Shameless – this album is a much better representation of her impressive vocal skill.

Set around a calendar year – from spring on into winter – Ms. Rossum is able to breathe some new life into songbook classics like the title track, as well as some off-road chestnuts like 1933’s “Keep Young And Beautiful.”  About the classics, Ms. Rossum says, “Classics, jazz, and standards really infused my childhood and so it felt quite natural to finally make this record.”

rossum200-2Some surprising choices from the sixties were my favorites – Johnny Mercer’s “Summer Wind,” and even the ultra-pop “Things,” originally written and recorded by Bobby Darin.

A small band doubling up on instruments keeps the recording engineers busy on this – but Ms. Rossum’s mastery of the material is always front and center.

I scarcely remember the first album, six years ago. This one will be in heavy rotation for a while.

Highly recommended.


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Madeleine Peyroux – The Blue Room

Modern Sounds in Country and Western MusicIn MusicHound’s “Essential Album Guide to Martini Music and Easy Listening,” Daniel Durchholz writes about Ray Charles, and his “…seemingly depthless capacity for heartache, and for his deftly intuitive ideas, which find him mining influences as varied as Count Basie and Hank Williams, and turning the result into works of staggering originality.”

I wasn’t even a tween when Charles’ “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” was released in 1962; yet I haunted the record bins even then, and somehow knew that Ray Charles and Country and Western music were two ideas that didn’t fit together.

Until they did. Boy, was that a lesson.

Madeleine Peyroux - The Blue RoomMadeleine Peyroux – the Blue Room

Released – March 5, 2013

Like everyone else, or perhaps because of everyone else, I keep trying to compare Madeleine Peyroux to Billie Holiday. That voice – that beguiling voice – keeps telling me that she’s channeling Billie’s blues, that I just need to listen long enough, and I’ll hear it.

But while I can find a track or two that make the mix on the ‘pod, mostly I’ve been disappointed.

Until now.

Larry Klein produces for Ms. Peyroux, and the publicity propaganda says, “The Blue Room started life as Klein’s re-examination of Ray Charles’s 1962 classic “Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music,” but soon moved away from being strictly an homage to that album.”

But five of the best from Mr. Charles’ songbook are on display here – none better than “Take These Chains From My Heart,” morphed into a lilting, but demanding interpretation; and “Born To Lose,” truer to the original, and with a haunting turn on trumpet by John “Scrapper” Sneider.

While we’re talking credits, Vince Mendoza provides the right countrypolitan string arrangements, and Larry Goldings works with Mr. Mendoza on keyboards to keep the dreamy velvet texture throughout.

Promotional Photo by Mary Ellen MarkThe five from that seminal Ray Charles work are joined with five others as varied as Randy Newman (“Guilty,”) Warren Zevon (“Desperadoes Under The Eaves,”) and John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind.” That one is particularly charming to me. The insistent beat of the Glen Campbell or Hartford versions is still there, way in the background. But Ms. Peyroux takes her own pace through the tune.

She takes her own pace through the whole album, far and away her best effort yet. For me, at least, it seems proof that given enough time, I’ll see the same genius in some performers as everyone else. I just needed to stop thinking Billie Holiday.

And start thinking Ray Charles.

Highest Recommendation.


Fawn Fritzen promo photo by Christian KuntzI can’t remember who reached out to whom, but Fawn Fritzen and I are Facebook pals, and maybe linked on LinkedIn and Twitter, too.  From Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Ms. Fritzen has been keeping warm this winter working on an album (“Bedroom Voice”) due out next week, which she swears isn’t nearly as suggestive as the title.

CBC has a competition for new Canadian music called “Searchlight”, and Ms. Fritzen is in the regional top five, and we’re going to help.

Canadian citizenship isn’t required, just lift an imaginary Molson or Labatt, and click at the link.  I’ve voted.  You should, too.

Although it’s not the song in the competition, Ms. Fritzen’s original “Fool For You” is my personal favorite.  And since it’s my blog, I get to pick my own winner.

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Champian Fulton – Champian Sings and Swings

Champian Fulton - Sings and SwingsChampian Fulton – Champian Sings and Swings
(Sharp Nine)
Released – January 29, 2013

Doesn’t much matter where I am, or what I’m doing – when something by singer/pianist Champian Fulton hits the ‘pod or the radio – I smile.

This is another winning romp for the winsome Ms. Fulton, joined by her dad, jazz educator Stephen Fulton on flugelhorn, Eric Alexander on Sax, Hide Tanaka on Bass, and Fukushi Tainaka on drums.

Champian Fulton - photo by Janice YiFavorites here include Cole Porter’s “It’s Alright With Me,” along with “The Shadow Of Your Smile” and the vocalese on “Samba de Orfeu.”

This is her third US release – the latest in what’s becoming a growing and solid repitoire of work.  Ms. Fulton is the whole package.

Very highly recommended.


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