The change in Karrin Allyson’s performance is significant; but that doesn’t alter the unique vocal presence through which we’ve come to know her and to appreciate for a decade and a half. In Wild For You , we still have the expressive treatment of lyrics, the delicate aura that combines scat singing with meaningful communication, and the sensual interplay that energizes her bands to create spontaneously and naturally.
Never a forceful singer, she combines the cool school with originality. Miles would have made an ideal musical partner. Imagine the sound of his buzzing Harmon mute or the clarion call of his open trumpet as it would soar alongside Allyson’s pearly voice. What she does with this program of pop songs alongside her usual band comes close to that ideal. Guitar, piano, bass, and drums provide the same kind of vocal-like partnership.
”Goin’ Wild For You, Baby” serves as the album’s title track. On it, Allyson casually moves over the lyric with Rod Fleeman’s fluid guitar phrases toggled in seamlessly. Scat singing gives the tune a “devil may care” feeling. Elton’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” adds a few accordion expressions to keep the piece on an exotic keel. A syncopated samba feel drives the piece deliciously.
What about “Feel Like Makin’ Love”? Allyson’s natural demure attitude brings this one home free. It’s the way the song was meant to be. No one wants some forceful hype about desire that is announced assertively with demanding overtures. This singer gives her audience just the right touch of class. You get the message without having it thrown in your face.
Carole King’s “It’s Too Late,” on the other hand, works against the grain. The song requires a forced message. It requires enough force to let the recipient know exactly where he stands. Were an unwelcome door-to-door salesman to show up on your front porch this afternoon, you’d assertively usher him away with a forceful attitude. With this familiar gem, it’s a parallel situation: the song requires more emphasis.
Allyson is at her best with quiet arrangements. Carly Simon’s songs, Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and Jimmy Webb’s ballad work quite well. Melissa Manchester’s “I Got Eyes” works the best. On it, Allyson combines her gentle sweetness with an athletic rhythm that twists and turns. She makes you feel as if you’re out on the dance floor in good company.
Allyson’s unique interpretation makes each of these songs her own. Her earnest respect for artistic beauty guarantees a success with every album she makes.
Personnel: Karrin Allyson- vocals, percussion, piano, Fender Rhodes; Gil Goldstein- piano, accordion, Hammond B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes; Paul Smith- Fender Rhodes; Danny Embrey- acoustic guitar; Rod Fleeman- electric & acoustic guitars; Bob Bowman- acoustic bass; Todd Strait- drums, percussion.