Vivian Buczek is blessed with a glorious voicewarm, emotional, engagingand a talent for sophisticated interpretations of established but not over-worked songs. Curiosity, the Swedish singer's fifth album, places her in the company of a piano trio led by the excellent pianist and arranger Martin Sjöstedt. It's company she clearly relishes and in which she shines brightly.
Buczek has put together a group of songs that draw on the American Songbook ("How Deep Is The Ocean," "For All We Know"), bop and post-bop standards ("Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Nica's Dream") and a few numbers from Scandinavian writers including her own "Once You Love," co-written with her father Bruno. Mostly these are songs of love, but it's not always the romantic kind and the lyrics tell many different stories.
Whatever emotion or image the words aim to evoke, Buczek delivers. She captures the self-deprecation of "It Might As Well Be Spring," gives the romance of "How Deep Is The Ocean" an added touch of sensuality and lets her voice float over Sjöstedt's lovely arrangement of "For All We Know" with a perfect combination of longing and wistfulness. On "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"Charles Mingus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk's eulogy for Lester Youngshe celebrates the saxophonist's legacy just as much as she mourns his passing. The tune's impact is itself heightened by a bluesy solo from guest guitarist Elias Källvik.
Johan Björk's "Lighthouse" celebrates a relationship, the trio at its punchiest and most upbeat. Claudia Campagnol's "I'm Strong" reflects on the loss of a relationship: the album's most poignant song, backing vocals from the composer and Källvik's understated guitar help to create a smooth '80s soul vibe. Alongside these numbers the arrangement for Ray Noble's "Cherokee" sounds fresh, but Noble's lyrics seem archaic and clichédalthough Buczek's performance is once again impeccable.
Curiosity is delightful, thanks to the song choice, the arrangements, the instrumentalists and, of course, Buczek's vocals.
Lighthouse; I'm Strong; Indian Love Song (Cherokee); Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; It Might As Well Be Spring; Once You Love; Curiosity; How Deep Is The Ocean; You're Everything; Nica's Dream; For All We Know.
Vivian Buczek: vocals; Martin Sjöstedt: piano, Fender Rhodes, organ; Niklas Fernqvist: bass; Johan Löfcrantz Ramsay: drums, percussion, backing vocals; Elias Källvik: guitar (2, 4, 7); Claudia Campagnol: backing vocals (2).