Dark chocolate is a beautifully nefarious romantic ideal. Rather than possessing the youthful sweetness of milk chocolate, it instead offers a libertine bitterness, a taste that must be acquired to appreciate but once acquired, no other taste can sate. Having to learn to like something so that knowledge will bring added pleasure is an adult concept, perhaps a hedonistic one, that Paul obviously meant to express when he divinely penned to those salacious Corinthians,
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
Dark chocolate has the added decadence of danger. That thing denied that is so coveted because it is denied. It is this dark romance that Tierney Sutton began investigating on her previous effort, On The Other Side (Telarc, 2007), and has continued to cultivate on Desire.
Where On The Other Side rubbed together the innocent lyrics of "Get Happy" and "You Are My Sunshine" with sensual too-close-for-comfort support, Desire further strips down this tact to the bare essentials. Drummer Ray Brinker and bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt provide Sutton tactile terrain over which the vocalist redevelops these standards anew. "It's Only a Paper Moon" has Brinker quietly brushing double time, just a low hum of anxiety beneath Sutton and pianist Christian Jacob, who rendezvous darkly. Against Kevin Axt's complex bass line and Jacob's piano seasoning, Sutton stretches like Eliot's cat on "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." .
Sutton gives a superbly sardonic kiss-off on "Cry Me a River" and "Love Me or Leave Me." Her unique ability to sing words while conveying their exact opposite is the key to what has made these last two albums so artistically successful. Again, it is Henry's bass figure, ascending and descending, that provides the jagged terrain Sutton must travel to thumb her nose at an ex-lover.
"Whatever Lola Wants" is delivered with a languid and spoiled attitude. Jacob's solo shards are delivered over a brilliantly off time left hand figure, so menacing that this ballad may best be reserved for Halloween (in the best possible way). The closing "Skylark" is as spooky as they come.
With Desire, Sutton tempers her signature sound: edgy, intelligent, and beautiful.
Personnel: Tierney Sutton: vocals; Christian Jacob: piano; Trey Henry, Kevin
Axt: bass instrument; Ray Brinker: drums.