Carolyn Lee Jones,
The Performer
(independent, 2013)

If you're fond of putting performers into categories, you're going to have a hard time pegging Carolyn Lee Jones. She's classified as a jazz artist and, I suppose, technically that fits, but it's smooth jazz. Nothing is ever rough or frenetic in her music. There's a strong cabaret influence, especially in the way she handles songs from the Great American Songbook and some pop leanings.

Categories don't matter, though; what counts is music, and Carolyn Lee Jones makes good music. Her voice is strong and pure, her choices sound and her approach is to serve the tune rather than show off the chops. Her arrangements are appropriate to the songs and provide a clean and strong floor for her to rest on while she sings.

The main adjective that springs to mind is tasteful.

And being tasteful is not a bad thing. Instead, it's a very rare and very good quality that makes you feel that you're at home in the company of the artist -- and that she is speaking to you personally.

Jones is at home with a ballad. "If You Were Shakespeare" and "Small Day Tomorrow" are sung so naturally that they seem to be more of a conversation than a performance. She's also fond of Latin rhythms. "The Performer," "I Wished Upon the Moon" and "Tell Me All About It" all get an Afro-Cuban, South American feel and are the better for it.

A long time ago, Irish singer Maura O'Connell said she didn't want to be known as a Celtic singer or a folk singer. Instead, she wanted to be known as just a singer. I believe Carolyn Lee Jones would approve of that sentiment.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

25 January 2014

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