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Ann Hampton Callaway: Finding Beauty. Originals. Volume 1


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Ann Hampton Callaway: Finding Beauty. Originals. Volume 1
"This is my most personal record," Callaway says. "Throughout my career, I've loved singing the great jazz classics and selections from the Great American Songbook, but I've always snuck my original songs on various projects. The pandemic made me think, 'I don't know if I'll live through this, but if I do, what's at the top of my bucket list?' And I realized that I wanted to tell my story and share the deepest part of me. What better way than by sharing and singing songs I've written?"

That is from the singer's mouth. And from her heart. Because Ann Hampton Callaway is not only a songstress and a tunesmith, but a wordsmith, and a prolific one too. She has appeared on stage and screen to much acclaim, singly, and with others, such as her sister, Liz Callaway. Callaway has written extensively for other singers, Barbra Streisand for instance. When one looks at her oeuvre, impressive and extensive, a natural reaction is to think "What hasn't this woman done?" Well, release a recording of original material, apparently, because that is what one finds here. For a devotee of the Great American Songbook, Callaway's newest is entirely consistent with her taste. Indeed, a listener can sometimes wonder why has someone not written this song (or lyric) before, an illogical, but eminently reasonable question. These are songs of love and loss, remembrance and contemplation.

Virtually all are taken at a moderate tempo, more than appropriate to the mood they set. Some are in a minor key, and that alone is an indication of what is going on. The performances are stunningly tasteful, sophisticated but not sentimental. It would require a rather lengthy review to consider all of them here. So a first suggestion. If a listener goes to Callaway's site, https://annhamptoncallaway.com/findingbeauty.html, her lyrics are available as a downloadable booklet. This is a strong recommendation, because it seems one of the best ways of appreciating what Callaway has accomplished. Saxophonist Lester Young always advised musicians to learn the lyrics of the songs they were playing. Indeed.

The wisdom of that counsel is no less evident here. The .pdf of lyrics runs to fourteen pages, another indication of what Callaway and a few collaborators have done. Speaking of collaborators, some of the most interesting material here involves Callway's collaborative singing with Kurt Elling ("Love and Let Love"); "Hold You in This Song," with Niki Haris; "New Eyes" with Melissa Manchester; "Wherever You Are," with her sister Liz Callaway; and "Be The Light" with Jarrett Johnson. There is never any difficulty picking out Ann Hampton Callaway. Her voice, even at age 65, is as distinctive as it is plangent. It frames her originals on what is billed as Volume 1. Something to look forward to, for sure

Track Listing

The Moon Is A Kite; Look for The Love; Forever And A Day; Love and Let Love; Information Please; You CAn't Rush Spring; Finding Beauty; Revelation; Hold You In This Song; Stealing' Away; New Eyes; At The Same Time; Wherever You Are; If I Were; Be the Light; Perfect.


Album information

Title: Finding Beauty. Originals. Volume 1 | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Shanachie Records

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