160

Petra Haden and Bill Frisell: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Petra Haden and Bill Frisell: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell Opinions about the self-titled Petra Haden and Bill Frisell will likely depend on whether the latter gives listeners the Willies or they find the guitarist Unspeakable. Those attracted by his mellow heartland meditations on The Willies (Nonesuch, 2002) will likely enjoy it; those shunning it in favor of his eclectic modernism on Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004) may find it too tame. This assumes, of course, that there's also an interest in hearing the frilly vocals of Petra Haden.



Make no mistake, this is Pop Standards Lite. The reason it's not necessarily lightweight is both musicians perform it well. Arrangements are often creative without sacrificing recognizability and the interplay between them usually succeeds.



One exception: Haden's vocals are drenched in too much processing, muddling the sonic textures that so often elevate Frisell's albums above the ordinary. Haden, the daughter of legendary bassist Charlie Haden, is accomplished enough as an indie pop-rock singer to not need such handicaps, and a minimalist approach in line with the folk-oriented instrumentation would be far superior. (Frisell, by the way, has collaborated a number of times with her father, including a pair of excellent trio albums led by drummer Ginger Baker.)



Tom Waits' "I Don't Want To Grow Up" is a highlight simply because it takes on a nursery rhyme tone. "Baï-laa Taigam" is a reflective and mature change of pace. "Moon River" emerges as a slow-paced winner thanks to a light touch on instrumentation and processing. Some listeners' limits for frilly might get stretched on "When You Wish Upon A Star" and "I've Got A Crush On You," where Haden sings with something of a childlike quality, but those who enjoy the Disney touch on compositions ("Sorcerer's Apprentice" or "Someday My Prince Will Come," anyone?) will probably find the arrangements refreshing.



Frisell shines at times, content to stay back and just offer riffing support at others. He's probably best appreciated on the originals "Throughout" and "The Quiet Room," where Haden offers vocal support without words. Frisell mixes folk, mild electric rock and the usual range of jazz influences into his strums and pluckings, mercifully avoiding most of the clashing experimentation that jarred some ears on Unspeakable.



There's enough here to make an encore collaboration worth encouraging (this time they ought to bring in the elder Haden; surely many have already suggested this by now). Given that both tend to perform on the modern edge of the contemporary scene, the next round of compositions might focus more on the new and original, rather than the past. Save that retro touch for the recording studio engineers and the result ought to be fully worthy of the talent.


Track Listing: Satellite; Floaty; Ba

Personnel: Petra Haden, vocals, violin; Bill Frisell, electric and acoustic guitars, loops

Title: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: True North Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Unnatural  Events CD/LP/Track Review Unnatural Events
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by James Nadal
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Clean CD/LP/Track Review Clean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2017
Read Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations CD/LP/Track Review Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)" CD/LP/Track Review Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Carve" CD/LP/Track Review Carve
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Constant Change 1976-2016" CD/LP/Track Review Constant Change 1976-2016
by John Sharpe
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Blues, Preludes and Feuds" CD/LP/Track Review Blues, Preludes and Feuds
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Heritage" CD/LP/Track Review Heritage
by James Nadal
Published: October 3, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.