Erin Bode is a sorceress of female jazz vocals. On her first recording, Don't Take Your Time
(MaxJazz, 2003), the singer spun the threads of Karrin Allyson and Norah Jones with her own Midwestern personality to create a hip synthesis of pop cum jazz songs, serrated with the ragged edge of Cassandra Wilson.
Erin Bode is the next logical step in this direction in jazz. Over and Over opts for simple, uncomplicated folk instrumentation with the occasional tenor saxophone break. Bode (with pianist Adam Maness) composed ten of the fourteen pieces on the recording. Two of the four "standards are anything but. The singer spins a lazy, humid version of "Graceland that transforms Paul Simon's jaunty multicultural song into an offbeat, off-time jazz ballad with hints of Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison. Maness holds the song down so Bode can do her thing while tenor saxophone phenomenon Seamus Blake shows what all of the talk has been about.
The second standout "standard is Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years," where Bode again channels Joni Mitchell with just Adam Maness' acoustic guitar to support her. The singer endows the song with a certain vulnerability, delivering it as a lament of acknowledgement. These two songs continue the trend that MaxJazz has advocated since the beginning: expansion of the jazz vocal repertoire.
Of singular importance to Over and Over are Bode's pathos-flexing compositions. They are diverse in style, content and theme. "Holiday is a restrained acoustic funk-fest chasing love that is getting away. "June offers word play that pitches the month against the name feminine. In general, Bode's lyrics are sophisticated and thoughtfully rhymed. It would be disingenuous to compare her to Amos Lee, Blue Note's male answer to Norah Jones, though their songs ring similaracoustic, folksy, 21st Century thoughtful. Lee was warmly received last year with the release of his debut recording, Amos Lee (Blue Note, 2005). But further listening reveals Bode's superior songwriting talent, including better rhymes and better themes.
Erin Bode is on the right track. I can't wait to hear what she has next.
Personnel: Erin Bode: vocals; Adam Maness: piano: Fender Rhodes: Hammond B-3, acoustic guitar; Syd
Rodway: bass; Chris Higginbottom: drums, percussion; Josh Mease: acoustic guitar,
background vocals; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone; Dave Eggar: cello.