122

Susannah McCorkle: Hearts & Minds

Mathew Bahl By

Sign in to view read count
Listening to Hearts & Minds, it occurred to me that Susannah McCorkle very well might inherit the mantle of Champion of the Great American Songbook currently worn by Tony Bennett. Like Mr. Bennett, Ms. McCorkle believes that the standard repertoire is a living, breathing and, most importantly, ever expanding body of music that has something profound to say to adults in the 21st Century, and on Hearts & Minds, she makes a convincing argument for that position.

Hearts & Minds is Ms. McCorkle’s most focused recording in years. The CD is something of a meditation on the state of human nature at the cusp of the millennium, but without any of the pretentious, cynical gloominess that description might imply. The album explores our struggle to make human connections amid the crazy conflicts of life in the modern age. The smartly chosen and intelligently sequenced material consists of a judicious mix of well-known standards, obscure older songs and obscure new songs.

Ms. McCorkle has never bought into the ironic deconstruction approach to Standards used by other modern singers. Instead, she sings these great songs with such warmth, heart and insight that she makes them seem fresh and new again. She surprises on "For All We Know" and "It Could Happen to You" by singing the ultra-obscure verses to both songs. “Love is Here to Stay," is, frankly, near the top of my list of tunes on which to impose a good 15-year moratorium. Yet, Ms. McCorkle, riding a tightly swinging rhythm section, makes the song sound improbably appealing.

Hearts & Minds works through an absorbing series of contrasts. Dave Frishberg's witty "What Did I Forget?" captures the frenetic pace of real life and Ivan Lins' "Evolution" ponders the consequences of that self-absorption. A gorgeous "I Can Dream, Can't I?" expresses the pain of unrequited love and "Haunted Heart" expresses the pain of lost love. However, "Down," a terrific new song by Simon Wallace and the great cult lyricist Fran Landesman, suggests that maybe we are really going through all that suffering because we want to.

Ms. McCorkle adroitly negotiates these changes in mood and material with the able assistance of the musicians. Dick Oatt's lyrical tenor saxophone is an especially welcome presence throughout the CD. Pianist and arranger Alan Farnham's contributions are remarkable. He leads two different rhythm sections and gives each a distinctive voice. He also supports Ms. McCorkle at every turn and their duet on Wallace & Landesman's "Scars" strikes the album's most disturbing emotional chord.


Track Listing: I Can Dream, Can

Personnel: Susannah McCorkle, vocals; Allen Farnham, piano, arranger and musical director; Dick Oatts, tenor saxophone; Paul Meyers, acoustic and electric guitars; Steve Gilmore, bass; Dennis Irwin, bass; Tim Horner, drums; Vanderlei Pereira, drums; Thiago DeMello, percussion.

| Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "More Figs And Blue Things" CD/LP/Track Review More Figs And Blue Things
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Stephan Crump's Rhombal" CD/LP/Track Review Stephan Crump's Rhombal
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" CD/LP/Track Review Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!