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Tessa Souter: Listen Love (2005)

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Tessa Souter: Listen Love No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

How nice to hear a sophisticated singer who so completely respects the melody, the lyrics, and the moment. Tessa Souter contributes much to the evolution of the songs she chooses to perform—she finds ways through phrase, paraphrase, and instrumental accompaniment to add rich new color. Like Norma Winstone—whose lyrics for Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks she uses here—Souter understands what is needed to deliver a song. Her voice, her sense of drama, her use of space and shape—all these work towards the sense of birth in each of these performances. You may have heard some of these songs before, but they're newly refashioned on Listen Love.

Take the '60s Pharoah Sanders/Leon Thomas hymn "The Creator Has a Master Plan, which she demystifies. In doing this, Souter finds a different, earthier way to sing it in which none of the spiritual or anthemic quality is lost; the arrangement is buoyed by the soulful bass of Essiet Essiet and the ethereal guitar of Freddie Bryant.

Souter's singing style feels natural and organic—her rich, dark voice combines with her ability to see the shape of a tune, so that words seem to come from her soul. The production is pure and simple, and thus the song stays at the center of consciousness. "Caravan, a song that's seen countless performances by countless singers, is reanimated with new dynamics and a hypnotic vocal arrangement.

"You Don't Have To Believe, says the title of one of the singer's originals, but what happens is that the magic happens and you find yourself believing in what she does after all.

Track Listing: The Peacocks; Willow; Caravan; Listen Love; Fragile; You Don't Have to Believe; Concierto de Aranjuez; Insensatez; Left Alone; The Creater Has a Master Plan

Record Label: Narada Jazz

Style: Vocal


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