There's some beautiful music on this new release by Estonian jazz singer Hedvig Hanson and guitarist Andre Maaker. Sultry vocals combine with warm acoustic guitar to create soothing sounds that are soulful and even therapeutic.
Hanson, an acclaimed vocalist, has garnered awards and notoriety in Europe. You Bring Me Joy , her second international release, conveys the mysticism of her homeland yet also is filled with modernistic enticements. Her voice is alluring, rich, and unpretentious, revealing world-class influences from American soul music divas such as Anita Baker and Whitney Houston.
The beautiful lyricism of Hanson's voice is supported by impressive musicianship from her counterpart. Maaker provides smooth playing with hues of Latin, classical, and folk music. His opening notes on "Tuning are marked with clarity and a cool precision, adding to Hanson's supple voice, which segues into "Nii Orn On Oo, where Hanson sings lyrics sung in her native tongue. The two artists weave an intricate mutual pattern as they communicate with interesting melodies and arrangements.
The twelve selections have a global appeal that fits into various styles, from the interesting remake of the classic "I'm Glad I've Got You to the instrumental piece "A Little Moon, featuring wonderful fretboard work by Maaker. On the solitude of "Bona's Lullaby, his guitar is captivating as Hanson provides chorus-like voices. The centerpiece, "You Bring Me Joy, a popular hit by singer Anita Baker in the '80s, is both romantic and jazzy as Hanson and Maaker add their own unique arranging and performance touches.
There's some light Brazilian swing action on "Terra Incognita as guitar and voice trade lines. Hanson not only can sing with some of the best, but she also scats like Ella Fitzgerald on "When Morning Comes, accompanied by guest trumpeter Nikita Grushev. There's much to enjoy here, and comparisons can be easily be made to other current vocalist/instrumental recordings; but this release clearly stands on its own. Just listen and you'll hear why.