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Album Review

Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke: Lean In


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Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke: Lean In
With a voice as sweet and cool as a spring breeze, Gretchen Parlato would sound at home in any cozy jazz club from Paris to Sao Paulo. The sound of Lionel Loueke's voice and guitar is at least 60 percent rhythm, with his plucking and crooning having an innate percussive pulse running through it. Two decades of collaboration and close friendship are on display with Parlato and Loueke's first full duo-recording; Lean In shows the breadth of their globe-spanning interests and dazzling versatility, but most important is the heartfelt warmth through every moment.

The closeness is on display from the first minute, where the duo weave a catchy lead melody and begin scatting their way through the opener in flighty but clearly honed unison. They continue swooping and dipping up and down the scales through pop covers and eloquent originals alike. Loueke's guitar lines and vocal pops make the sound feel as full as that of a whole band already, but a delightfully simpatico rhythm section fills things out that much more in some well-chosen spots, percolating through wandering interludes and fetchingly slinky funk grooves alike.

The group makes a sunny whirl across practically the whole globe, bridging Benin with Brazil and singing in languages from three continents. Parlato's croon stays dreamy and appealing, even when singing of lost loves and ended relationships. Loueke coasts in step with equally fluid melodicism and unreserved cheer. It's a work all about connection, discovery and the simple joy of exploring together.

Track Listing

Akwê; I Miss You; If I Knew; Okagbé; Astronauta; Mi Wa Se; Muse; Nonvignon; Lean In; Painful Joy; Dou Wé; Walking After You.


Gretchen Parlato: voice / vocals; Lionel Loueke: guitar, acoustic.

Additional Instrumentation

Burniss Travis: bass; Mark Guiliana: drums.

Album information

Title: Lean In | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Edition Records

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