25

Nels Cline: Lovers

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
No one can accuse guitarist Nels Cline of being predictable. He has recorded with his avant-garde trio the Nels Cline Singers most consistently (with bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola), but also led larger groups, such as the one on New Monastery (Cryptogramophone, 2006). More recently there was his duet with guitarist Julian Lage on Room (Mack Avenue, 2014), not to mention his membership in the rock group Wilco since 2004. His Blue Note debut Lovers is a unique entry in his discography: an expansive update of the romantic "mood music" genre, which he has been thinking about for over 25 years. The chamber orchestra arranged and conducted by Michael Leonhart is a defining part of the sound. The ensemble includes several previous Cline collaborators: bassist Devin Hoff, drummer Alex Cline, guitarist Julian Lage, harpist Zeena Parkins, and violinist Jeff Gauthier, to name a few. Although there are some prominent individual voices, it's very much a group sound, with Cline as spotlighted soloist.

The double-disc's 18 tracks cover a wide range of material. The Great American Songbook is well represented, including "Beautiful Love," "Secret Love, " "I Have Dreamed" and others. Jazz standards include Jimmy Giuffre's "Cry, Want," Gabor Szabo's "Lady Gabor" and Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation." There are also five Cline originals, plus more recent cover material. Cline's guitar playing can be edgy, but opener "Introduction/Diaphanous" gives notice that things will be different, as Cline turns in a beautiful straight-ahead jazz guitar solo. He plays the head on Rodgers & Hart's "Glad To Be Unhappy," even using octaves some of the time. That's a sound that unavoidably recalls the seminal jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, who took a lot of flack for making crossover recordings with orchestra much like this one.

Cline does use his customary electronic effects, although more sparingly than usual. "Cry, Want" includes a bit of discreet whammy bar; "Lady Gabor" opens with very electronic-sounding looping effects; and lap steel with volume swells takes the lead on "I Have Dreamed" and "Why Was I Born." Cline's adventurous tendencies are perhaps most visible in some of his song choices. "Snare, Girl" is a tribute to Sonic Youth, while the Ambitious Lovers ' "It Only Has To Happen Once" is a nod to guitarists Arto Lindsay and Marc Ribot. The Annette Peacock medley of "So Hard It Hurts/Touching" sounds the most like a track on other Nels Cline albums—it's the sort of cover material he favors.

Cline's discography is so varied that it's hard to know exactly what to expect from him. But it's safe to say that no one was expecting something like this. Lovers is a beautifully realized project that showcases a new facet of Cline's composing and playing. It's a quiet stunner, sure to win over anyone approaching it with open ears.

Track Listing: CD 1: Introduction/Diaphanous; Glad to Be Unhappy; Beautiful Love; Hairpin & Hatbox; Cry, Want; Lady Gabor; The Bed We Made; You Noticed; Secret Love; I Have Dreamed. CD2: Why Was I Born?; Invitation; It Only Has to Happen Once; The Night Porter/Max, Mon Amour; Snare, Girl; So Hard It Hurts/Touching; The Search for Cat; The Bond.

Personnel: Nels Cline: chitarra elettrica, acustica, lap steel, elettronica; Devin Hoff: contrabbasso, basso elettrico; Alex Cline: batteria, percussioni; Steven Bernstein: tromba, tromba slide, flicorno, flicorno contralto; Taylor Haskins: tromba, flicorno, trombone a pistoni; Michael Leonhart: tromba, flicorno, celesta, salterio, arrangiamenti; Alan Ferber: trombone, trombone basso; Charles Pillow: flauti, oboe, corno inglese, sassofono contralto, clarinetto; Jd Parran: flauti, clarinetti, sassofono basso e baritono; Ben Goldberg: clarinetti; Doug Wieselman: clarinetti, sax tenore; Gavin Templeton: clarinetto, sassofono contralto; Sara Schoenbeck: fagotto; Julian Lage: chitarra elettrica e acustica; Kenny Wollesen: vibrafono, marimba, percussioni; Zeena Parkins: arpa; Yuka C Honda: celesta, tastiere; Antoine Silverman: violino; Jeff Gauthier: violino; Amy Kimball: viola, violino; Stephanie Griffin: viola; Erik Friedlander: violoncello; Maggie Parkins: violoncello.

Title: Lovers | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

Listen

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Year in Review
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Currents, Constellations

Currents,...

Blue Note Records
2018

buy
Lovers

Lovers

Blue Note Records
2016

buy
Room

Room

Mack Avenue Records
2015

buy
Macroscope

Macroscope

Mack Avenue Records
2014

buy
Room

Room

Mack Avenue Records
2014

buy
Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 2

Woodstock Sessions,...

Burnside Records
2014

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Aug24Sat
Nels Cline, Scott Metzger, Vernon Reid, Joel Harrison
Colony
Woodstock, NY

Related Articles

Read Phalanx Ambassadors Album Reviews
Phalanx Ambassadors
By Troy Dostert
June 26, 2019
Read When Will The Blues Leave Album Reviews
When Will The Blues Leave
By John Ephland
June 26, 2019
Read Nothing Here Belongs Album Reviews
Nothing Here Belongs
By Jerome Wilson
June 26, 2019
Read Gods Of Apollo Album Reviews
Gods Of Apollo
By Roger Farbey
June 26, 2019
Read Migrations Album Reviews
Migrations
By Dan McClenaghan
June 25, 2019
Read Samba Azul Album Reviews
Samba Azul
By Mackenzie Horne
June 25, 2019
Read Blue Waltz - Live at Gustavs Album Reviews
Blue Waltz - Live at Gustavs
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 25, 2019