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Chris McNulty: The Song That Sings You Here

C. Michael Bailey By

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Great art often results from conflict, pain or loss. Australian-born singer Chris McNulty notes that The Song That Sings You Here, in spite of being conceived and recorded before she suffered the death of her son Sam, could have just as easily been conceived and recorded after, summing these circumstances into a type of preemptive creative process filled with both grief and gratitude. The temporal results are a highly refined offering filled with robust standards, finely delivered by the singer's precision quintet under her arrangement direction and that of guitarist Paul Bollenback.

McNulty neatly arranges The Song That Sings You Here, presenting the eight standards first, before concluding the disc with her originals. In attendance are two triptychs contrasting the old with the new. The first pits a suitably bluesy take on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" and a swing with momentum view of Lerner and Lowe's "On The Street Where You Live" on either side of pianist Horace Silver's languid "Lonely Woman." These songs are dealt with at length, all greater than six minutes. McNulty's pliant voice navigates the disparate terrain of each song, the direction illuminated with Bollenback's informed playing.

The second threesome includes "Last Night When We Were Young," The Lamp is Low" and "One Less Bell to Answer." The subdued mood of these songs is amplified by McNulty's spot-on delivery, the latter Hal David/Burt Bacharach piece delivered with palpable heartbreak.

The disc closes with McNulty's originals. "Letter to Marta" was composed by McNulty in her teen years and only recently titled, a brief impression of where one belongs and when one realizes it, performed by McNulty and pianist Andrei Kondokov alone. "Long Road Home— The Song That Sings You Here" receives full band support. Breezy and light, the song is naturally sophisticated, with McNulty's most assertive vocals on the disc—eschewing the balladic approach used for the majority of The Song That Sings You Here for a harder emotional approach, and galvanizing the entire offering.

Track Listing: How Little We Know; How Are Things In Glocca Morra; Jitterbug Waltz; Lonely Woman; On The Street Where You Love; Last Night When We Were Young; The Lamp Is Low; One Less Bell To Answer; Letter To Marta; Long Road Home - The Song That Sings You Here.

Personnel: Chris McNulty: vocals; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Paul Bollenback: guitars; Andrei Kondokov: piano; Graham Wood: piano, Rhodes; Igor Butman: tenor and soprano saxophones; Anita Wardell: vocals.

Title: The Song That Sings You Here | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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