Tianna Hall: Never Let Me Go (2011)
Never Let Me Go is Houston-native vocalist Tianna Hall's third release, and first for Blue Bamboo Music, following her self-produced Lost in the Stars (2007) and Ballads and Bossas (2010). Hall has preferred the intimacy of smaller accompaniment on her first two recordings, a preference she carries to Never Let Me Go. The singer is support by guitarists Mike Wheeler and Mike Nase, cellist Lisa Vasdoganes and percussionist James Metcalfe in a style that is equal parts Hot Club, Carnegie Hall, and Grand Old Opry.
Hall's performance style is one of Americana, paralleling that of fellow singer and Houstonian Jacqui Sutton and her Frontier Orchestra (Billie & Dolly (Toy Blue Typewriter, 2010)). The music's personality is a bit sepia-toned with contemporary notes of modernity. Americana is not all that is featured as Hall's Portuguese is impeccable and she can spin a web with composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.
On Never Let Me Go, it is about standards and Hall's steamy-sardonic take on the Broadway writers Arthur SchwartzHoward Dietz classic "You and the Night and the Music" from the 1934 Broadway show Revenge With Music removes the love song to a more complex and provocative level. Well-covered, the piece is propelled into full swing mode by Wheeler and Nase, who provide an orchestra of support. One guitar provides a bass line and rhythm and the other filigree with Hall rushing the lyrics just ahead of the beat, giving her singing a laconic, matter-of-fact tone.
Hall's voice is a solid alto with sensual grit, not too little and not too much: just enough love dust to get the point across. She sings as an impatient lover comforting her insecure love object in seduction. The projected sentiment is compounded and compelling. Wheeler and Nase both solo to great effect within these small confines proving often less is more. The piece is a triumph of minimization, where brevity wins every time.
Personnel: Tianna Hall: vocals; Mike Wheeler: guitar; Mike Nase: guitar.