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Tessa Souter: Obsession (2009)

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Tessa Souter: Obsession How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

New York-based, British-born Tessa Souter is a jazz singer with interests far outside the jazz world. On Obsession, Souter mostly shuns well-trodden standards and classic jazz fare in favor of a varied set of rock, pop and Brazilian tunes.

With her rich contralto and crystal-clear diction, Souter delivers lyrics with a theatrical, but never overdramatic, flair. Nothing sounds forced or hurried in her delivery; she's a relaxed, confident singer who succeeds at creating a romantic, vaguely tropical mood with apparent ease. And she knows how to get inside a song, even a familiar one, and make it her own. She treats The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
' "Eleanor Rigby" plaintively without turning too morose and offers a sophisticated, reflective reading of the late British folk-rocker Nick Drake's "Riverman."

Many of the tunes have a Brazilian flavor, including a highly original reimagining of Cream's '60s hard-rock anthem "White Room," with an arrangement by guitarist Jason Ennis. The Brazilian theme continues on delightful versions of two songs by Milton Nascimento

Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
b.1942
guitar
, "Make This City Ours Tonight" and "Vera Cruz (Empty Faces)." Other highlights include a simple, yet soulful take on Mongo Santamaria
Mongo Santamaria
Mongo Santamaria
1922 - 2003
percussion
's "Afro Blue"; a moving rendition of Alex Nort's "Love Theme from Spartacus," with Souter backed only by guitar and bass and the singer's own "Usha's Wedding," an enchanting Middle-Eastern-inspired tune.

Backed by a small, spare ensemble led by Ennis' acoustic guitar, Victor Prieto
Victor Prieto
Victor Prieto

accordion
's accordion and Todd Reynolds' violin, Souter has made a deeply satisfying album of jazz and jazz-inflected music that should appeal to a wide audience.


Track Listing: Eleanor Rigby; Riverman; Obsession; White Room; Afro Blue/Footprints; Make This City Ours Tonight; Crystal Rain--Sunshower; Empty Faces - Vera Cruz; Now and Then; Nara's Song--Little Sunflower; Love Them from Spartacus; Usha's Wedding.

Personnel: Tessa Souter: vocals; Jason Ennis: guitar; Gary Wang: bass; Conor Meehan: drums; Victor Prieto: accordion; Todd Reynolds: violin; Ansel Matthews: backing vocals.

Record Label: Motema Music

Style: Vocal


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