Chicago based vocalist Petra van Nuis and her husband guitarist Andy Brown have impeccable artistic synergy, something that is superbly demonstrated on their delightful duet album Lessons Lyrical. The 17 standards that van Nuis and Brown interpret are stripped down to their basic melodic elements and are reconstructed with such warmth and intimacy that highlight the beauty at the core of each one.
On the effervescent "Save Your Sorrow For Tomorrow" van Nuis' graceful vocals soar over Brown's energetic chords. Brown's guitar stylings brim with carefree romanticism. While the exotic "Bali Hai" features voice and guitar sashaying in unison with sensuality and passion. Brown takes an expressive and inventive solo that meanders far from the theme and returns to it with breathtaking agility.
Brown opens the dramatic "You're Blasé" with overlapping layers of richly hued and reserved phrases. Van Nuis enters with her haunting and tender singing, making the track truly captivating. Elsewhere van Nuis starts off "You Must Believe In Spring" unaccompanied, filling the silence around her with ardent emotion and hypnotic resonance. Brown joins with sparse strums that coalesce into a pensive and melancholic song.
There are also several playful and light-hearted tunes on this enjoyable album. "Slow Poke" for instance features Brown's folkish lines that flow effortlessly and buoy van Nuis' joyful vocals. Van Nuis articulates with charm and whimsy the humorous lyrics while Brown supports her with is bright and acerbic strings. Meanwhile the amusing "Doctor Jazz" harks back to the early days of New Orleans jazz. This Joseph "King" Oliver composition showcases van Nuis and Brown's lithe and crisp musical repartee and their respective virtuosity.
This charismatic collaboration between van Nuis and Brown is as engaging as it is imaginative. Lessons Lyrical is a splendid recording that casts these, often performed, pieces in a refreshingly modern light. The complementary and harmonious individualities of both musicians is what makes this release unique.
Speak Low; Save Your Sorrow For Tomorrow; C'est La Vie; Oh, What A Beautiful
Mornin'; Bali Hai; Slow Poke; When The World Was Young; Any Place I Hang My Hat Is
Home; A Time For Love; Doctor Jazz; You're Blasé; Who Cares; Try To Remember;
Simple Isn't Easy; Peter Had A Wolf; I've Got A Pocketful Of Dreams; You Must Believe
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