(Stuart, 2002)

Nura is on the scene. The Canadian jazz vocalist is new to my range of musical interests; from this exploration into new music genres, I think I've stumbled onto something that may turn into a lasting relationship.

As a personal foible, I and my musical ear and soul do not appreciate any delicate, high music that approaches that of a nuclear whine. Especially over an extended period. So I often leave jazz off my list of items to review and purchase.

But I'm willing to be educated. Enlightened, even. If the beat has survived this long, there must be something satisfying about it.

Enter Nura. She will affect you personally from the first note. With passages of sweet innocence, she personifies the delicate lost art of whispering sweet nothings. But her nothings promise everything spiritual and physical. She enchants as she breathes. Her voice, extremely versatile, is the front instrument in a series of smooth jazz forms. And instrumental though she is in a technical sense, the vocals are intimate, highly and humanly sensual.

Contrasting that sound, but just as intriguing with her gentle, finely-tuned voice, are some rap inserts that you might expect to find annoying, but are not in the least. This is a brave and innovative group of tracks. Stimulating and yet easy listening is a tightrope walk that Nura does with grace, displaying her own tensile strength of sound.

The lyrics are in the liner notes. Eternal love songs co-written by Nura and Stuart Steinhart, such as "Hanging'" with Greg Glasgow, and a few written solely by Steinhart are powerful and evocative thoughts to be appreciated by generations of partners and lovers. As an interesting aside, some tracks have no lyrics but do list vocal credits.

It think it's because Steinhart plays six-string bass accompaniment and uses something called a VG-8, I enjoyed the rich deep tones of each track. The instrumental arrangements that back Nura up are as elemental as a human chorus, and just as connected. What contributed to that is no doubt the list of players who added their expertise. Take Randy Cooke, Luis Conte, Rik Emmett, Bob Livingston, Bill McBernie and Kevin Breit, and we've got magic.

You absolutely cannot go wrong with this one. It's graceful, exciting, sensual and captivating. Nura's personality and sensitivity shine through and, as it soars, takes you along.

And Nura has permanently removed jazz from the list of foreign four-letter words in my house.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 11 September 2004

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