Veronica Nunn: American Lullaby (2000)
When all is said and done, what makes a vocalist a pleasure to listen to is whether she/he stays with the pitch, has good diction so lyrics aren't muffled and has a reasonably attractive voice. Veronica Nunn gets an "A+" for diction, "A" for voice, but for pitch, her grades range from C to B+. On up tempo material, such as "It Might As Well Be Spring", while enthusiastic in her delivery, she seems to lose her way from time to time and finds herself trying to catch up with the band. On this tune and a quick paced "On a Wonderful Day Like Today", Nunn seems to be trying to restrain her full throated voice. In doing so, she wanders every now and then. On ballads and slower paced material, the outcome is much better. Her pure, strong mezzo fits well with the emotional context of the classic "I Loves You Porgy" from Porgy and Bess. I suggest that what helps on such tracks as these is that she is accompanied solely by Travis Shook on piano and Jennifer Vincent's bass, and doesn't have to deal with the frenetic clutter created when the full band is behind her. This is the case on such other cuts as "The Meaning of the Blues" and the medley of "American Lullaby" and "Not While I'm Around". On virtually every cut, Shook is allowed an extended solo, some of which are relevant and well placed, others are ornate and showy and thus out of place. On the other side, bassist Jennifer Vincent shows that she can stay with anyone when it comes to getting a bass to sing on such cuts as "The Meaning of the Blues".
This is Arkansas reared, New York resident Nunn's debut album as a leader. There's no doubt she comes with all the equipment to make a mark on the jazz vocal scene if she would give her natural vocal talents full reign irrespective of the type and tempo of tune she's singing. Nunn's web site is at www.veronicanunn.com.
Track Listing: Medley: American Lullaby/Not While I'm Around; Don't Be Blue; This Joy; I Loves You Porgy; Living Room; You Know You're in Love; Green Finch & Linnet Bird; The Meaning of the Blues; On a Wonderful Day Like Today; It Might as Well Be Spring
Personnel: Veronica Nunn - Vocal; Travis Shook - Piano; Jennifer Vincent - Bass; Jazz Sawyer - Drums/Percussion; Kebbi Williams - Tenor Sax; Ron Westray - Trombone
Record Label: Dead Horse