Hope Waits,
Hope Waits
(Radar Proof, 2007)

When I first gave a listen to the self-titled CD by Hope Waits and heard her vocals, I was instantly transported to Louisiana. In fact, I was having thoughts of New Orleans. So I wasn't surprised when I learned that Hope hails from Monroe. Granted, the town is on the other side of the state from NOLA, but I was in the ballpark. Hope has deep, smoky vocals that fit well with the blues and jazz style she croons on this CD. If I had to find a comparison, I would say Hope is a little like Joan Osborne with a hint of Bonnie Raitt.

If you're familiar with old-time rock, you might be familiar with the up-tempo version of "I'll Be Satisfied" by Jackie Wilson. Hope turns this tune on its ear such that -- besides the lyrics -- you probably wouldn't recognize it. From a rock beginning, the song now has a jazzy-blues melody. Hope's transformation of the piece makes it her own. And, in my opinion, she improves upon the original.

My favorite original on the CD (and one of the top tracks as well) is easily "Fortune Teller." This song gets a little folksy, but like the majority of the tracks on the CD, has a slow beat. This song might be a big reason why I think of NOLA since part of the lyrics impart: "Walking the streets of New Orleans / Looking to get my fortune told / I passed a lady who seemed to be crazy / she said 'baby, your eyes are much too old'."

For years, whenever I've heard any rendition of "Come Rain or Come Shine" I have always thought back to Bette Midler's version from the movie For the Boys. I might have to rethink that. Hope has a very, very slow rendition that moves at the pace of the funeral march. But rather than plod along, Hope packs a vocal punch that is truly eye-opening. (Maybe that should be ear-opening). Hope's track takes out the piano that has a leading role in Midler's song. Hope also removes the second "Come" from the title.

Hope mostly focuses on vocals although she does play guitar on one track. Eleven other musicians support her on this CD including Peter Malick (guitars), Butch Norton (drums, percussion), Jeff Turmes (bass, string bass, guitar), Marty Ballou (string bass), Jon Ossman (string bass, fretless bass), Phil Parlapiano (piano, Hammond B3, accordion), Marco Goody (piano, keys), David Woodford (baritone and tenor sax), Lee Thornberg (trumpet, trombone), Dave Marsh (clarinet) and Ducky Carlisle (doo wop, snare).

Of the 12 tracks on Hope Waits, most are covers -- but excellent covers, a few of which are arguably better than the originals. Hope co-wrote four of the tracks, so she still leaves more of her touch than simply the twists she puts on the covers. I have enjoyed this CD quite a bit. Hope has a pretty voice and the musicians play well together. If you enjoy jazz and/or the blues and like music from the bayou, I believe Hope Waits has some music you might appreciate. Is this where I make some cheesy conclusion, like I hope you don't wait too long to get this CD because you don't know what you're missing? Whatever it takes to get you go go check her music out, I guess.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Wil Owen

5 March 2011

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