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Jay Clayton: The Peace of Wild Things

Florence Wetzel By

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Innovative singer Jay Clayton has forged a career out of taking chances and exploring the possibilities inherent in the human voice. The Peace of Wild Things is a subtly adventurous mix of voice, electronics and poetry. Each of the nine songs features a poem; five are by the renowned poet E.E. Cummings, with others by jazz innovator Jeanne Lee, the farmer-poet Wendell Berry, Lara Pellegrinelli and Clayton herself.

What's so fresh about this CD is the spare and spacious approach Clayton and her co-producer Jay Anderson have taken; they use electronic effects in a judicious fashion that lets Clayton's gifts breathe and allows the poetry to be heard. A good example is "Love is a Place," which features one of Cummings' poems. Clearly Clayton is inspired by Cummings; she echoes his elliptical, joyful poetry in her airy arrangements and playful delivery. Through the use of innovative mixing, Clayton sings and speaks over a percussive background that consists of her own voice. Different melodic and percussive lines emerge throughout the song and these are gradually layered over one another as the song progresses. Yet even with the layering of sound, the song remains spacious with a gentle, lilting quality both understated and vibrant.

Another wonderful song is "No Words, Only a Feeling," written by the late, great Lee. In this gently funky piece, Clayton's natural voice plays against an electronically enhanced version and a minimalist approach creates a bouncy lightness, a veritable souffléé of sound.

The CD's title comes from Berry's poem, a gentle meditation on finding peace within nature. The Peace of Wild Things does indeed exude peace and its gentle exuberance and sense of celebration make it a welcome offering in Clayton's long and illustrious career.

Track Listing: Free Me; Why Because; Sometime; Let It Go; Love Is A Place; Sheila's Dream; Secrets Of Living; The Peace Of Wild Things; No Words, Only A Feeling.

Personnel: Jay Clayton: vocals.

Title: The Peace of Wild Things | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

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