Dominique Eade: The Long Way Home
The review in a moment. First, the nit–picking. When a singer has such first–class material as “Let’s Take the Long Way Home,” “Baltimore Oriole” or even “Anywhere I Wander” to choose from, why would he or she open an album, as Dominique Eade does, with something as hackneyed as Elton John / Bernie Taupin’s “Come Down in Time”? If you have a logical answer, drop me a line. I can’t figure it out. Perhaps she intended to pave the way for four of her own less–than–memorable compositions, which are strewn among the masterworks mentioned above alongside Frank Loesser’s “Have I Stayed Away Too Long?” and “Hans Christian Andersen,” Henry Mancini’s “Two for the Road” and Ornette Coleman’s “All My Life.” On the plus side, Eade has a pleasant mid–range voice and sings on key; she’s also nice–looking, which is (or should be) irrelevant. After all, good looks can only carry one so far before the need for talent kicks in. And when it comes to singing, that requires more than a likable voice or a charming smile. A singer must learn to absorb a lyric, reshape it and use it effectively to tell a story. That is where Eade and I part company, as I found none of her interpretations — at least of the five songs with which I am familiar — moving or persuasive. As an example (it would be too tedious to cover the five) let’s survey the title selection, a lovely ballad by Harold Arlen with lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer. Simple. Straightforward. Needs no embellishment. But instead of playing it straight, Eade chooses to convert any number of one–syllable words (“dream,” “go,” “let’s,” “home,” “way,” “end,” “soon,” “moon,” ”foam”) into two (or more) syllables. Yes, she’s entitled to do it her way, and the criticism may sound like so much more nit–picking; but to these ears, a few of those self–indulgent ornaments are more than is necessary, especially when one has such marvelously candid lyrics with which to work. Why not simply sing them? On the other hand, many listeners may find such affectations thoroughly charming. To each his own. I can’t say that Eade is untalented; aside from a few perceptible problems with diction and pacing (on “Hans Christian Andersen,” for example), she’s a pretty good singer. And one’s inability to comprehend her every word may be as much the fault of the recording as of her enunciation. A final note: the timing for track 4 (“Comrade / Anywhere I Wander”), listed on the jacket and sleeve as 5:27, is actually 1:48. Those things happen. As for the recording as a whole, the opinion here is that it is less than rewarding. But that’s only one person’s opinion, and when it comes to appraising vocalists he’s less than infallible.
Track listing: Come Down in Time; I’m Hans Christian Andersen; Velvet; Comrade / Anywhere I Wander; The Open Road; Baltimore Oriole; Two for the Road; All My Life; Have I Stayed Away Too Long?; Rounding the Bend; Let’s Take the Long Way Home; Warm and Lovely Sunrise (51:53).
Dominique Eade, vocals; Bruce Barth, piano; Mick Goodrick, electric guitar; Dave Holland, bass; Victor Lewis, drums; Cyro Baptista, percussion.