How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Cape Cod-based vocalist Ann Austin sounds blue collar, blue jeans, with an unaffected and straightforward delivery and pipes with some power when she needs it. Throw in the occasional world-weariness and an underlying toughnesstinted with vulnerabilityand she sounds like a lady who sings in a bar somewhereand does it very well, exploring themes of love, longing, love lost, problems with love.
The "love themes" might sound country & western, but Austin's gig is more straight-on popular songs with a soulful side to them. On "Ain't No Use" I'm reminded of Aretha, as Austin sings with emotion and power in front of the band's bluesy backing. On "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You, Baby)"done orignally by British songstress LuluAustin sounds resolved to the fact that she's head over heels with someone who, perhaps, doesn't return the feeling. Stevie Wonder's "Lately," arranged with a shuffling groove and John Harrison III's erudite piano, has an elegant sheen. If Austin sings in blue jeans, Harrison plays in a tuxedo, which is a dynamic that contributes greatly to the success of the sound.
Austin penned four of the songs here, and if she's a fine vocalist, she's a better tunesmith. The title cut, "Lost in Your Eyes," and "Can't Erase You From My Heart" seem perfect vehicles for coverage by other songstresses, with strong and engaging melodies and intelligent everywoman lyrics.
A strong debut. Now let's hear some covers of Austin's originals.
Track Listing: Tell Me Not to Love You, Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You, Baby), Ain't No Use, Once Upon a Time, Lost in Your Eyes, Lately, I Can't Erase You From My Heart, Black Coffee, Fragile, Ballad of the Sad Young Men, Cha Cha Blues
Personnel: Ann Austin--vocals; John Harrison III--piano; Rusty Russo--drums; Mark Pucci--accoustic bass; Paul Good--guitar