The difference between Mercedes Nicole's Beautiful Alignment (Self Produced, 2013) and People Are Talking is artistic growth and confidence. Beautiful Alignment was fueled by a youthful ambition and precocious talent. Nicole's evolution from that point manifests squarely in the refining fire of performance and practice, both which enhance her existing gift. People Are Talking reveals mature, completely polished approach to standards and originals that offers more than a recapitulation of previous approaches.
Nicole's standards choices are a mixed bag of the familiar and newly found. She has honed her ballad singing as evidenced on a brilliantly slow take on the Coleman/Lipton classic "Would You Believe." Pronounced are Nicole's rich alto voice and Clipper Anderson's malleable bass playing. This singer displays fortitude in addressing Van Morrison's "Moondance," which she delivers with such an earthy presence, the listener may very well blush. Darren Motamedy flute is spot on and, did I mention that the song swings?
The original ballad, "Touch the Sky" is anchored with the plaintive cello of John William Smith. Nicole sings emotively, infusing her composition with a lifetime of blues and church, an aural environment she brings also to the title piece. The takes this thread to its logical conclusion with the humid and fecund "Chicken, Biscuits & Gravy>." Here Nicole shows no fear of getting her hands dirty in the blues. People Are Talking is the release that Mercedes Nicole deserves to make and we all benefit from that.
Track Listing: Would You Believe; Moondance; Touching the Sky; People are Talking;
Dindi; Hushabye; I Loves You Porgy; Fly Me to the Moon; Chicken,
Biscuits and Gravy.
Personnel: Mercedes Nicole: vocals; Darin Clendenin: piano; Clipper Anderson:
bass; D’Vonne Lewis, Don Gunn: Drums; Darren Motamedy: flute; Susan
Pascal: vibraphone; Alexey Nikolaev: saxophone; William Smith: Cello.
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