"I'll always want the simple life, Canadian singer Caroline Drury croons on the opening chorus of Loving You, Loving Me
. It's also a mentality that serves her best on this album.
Drury, 24, sings 11 ballads with sparse backings, including eight originals, on a evenhanded folk/jazz performance fans of Norah Jones will feel at home with. There's nothing remarkable, but in the vast range between classic and forgettable albums it falls on the favorable side of the worthy/unworthy divide.
The album, her third as a leader or co-leader, works because of what it is - a low-key effort by a talented local performer (she's a native of the small Yukon town of Whitehorse, but now lives in Vancouver). Such artists exist in abundance, but that sense of intimacy doesn't always translate in the studio.
Drury's mid-range vocals serve an instrumental purpose as much as a lyrical one, dabbling between husky and lilting and retaining a soothing and sweet touch. There's little improvisation or departing a song's comfort zone which, given the lesser character of some relatively bluesy pieces, is probably best.
Her lyrics are the usual collection of meditations about relationships in varying states of bliss, with a predictably light mood to the childlike musings of "Playtime and somber one to the dark piano tones of "Alone. More active songs like the opening "Simple Life, with its heavy blues influences, feel out of character with both her best abilities and the overall character of the album.
The instrumentation offers a solid complimentary touch without being overly creative or dull. Miles Black displays good versatility on guitar and piano, whether it's electric simplicity in the spirit of Joe Pass or acoustic fingerpicking blues. Bassist Rick Kilburn is similarly proficient and sometimes so effortless in laying a foundation he gets overlooked, but like Drury possesses a tone that conveys intimacy and comfort.
Loving You, Loving Me is much like a popular neighborhood diner, worth the stop if you live there but not necessarily worth driving across town for. Her bio notes she has appeared in the same setting as big-name performers such as Dianne Reeves, Pat Metheny and Wynton Marsalis, so those "in the neighborhood opportunities may be frequent enough to make an encounter possible. Of course, in the Internet age the opportunity to hear the locals is seldom more than a click or two away, and like most modern performers Drury provides samples of her work at her site www.carolinedrury.com.
Track Listing: Simple Life; Hey You; Love Potion #9; Let
Personnel: Caroline Drury, vocals; Miles Black, piano and guitar; Rick Kilburn, bass
Title: Loving You, Loving Me
| Year Released: 2005
| Record Label: Chelsea Bridge Records