BWW Review: SEE THINGS LIKE YOU CD Is Top Quality Cabaret
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Friday 9th September 2016
Western Australian composer and singer, Jen de Ness, came to Adelaide again this year for the Cabaret Fringe with a show to launch her latest CD, See Things Like You, that draws on stories from her imagined venue, the Green Tile Tango Club and adds a couple of jazz tunes.
She is backed by a impressive group of musicians, including her husband and musical director, Bill Atkinson, on guitar and back-up vocals, as well as recently retired head of the School of Jazz Studies at Adelaide's Elder Conservatorium of Music, Bruce Hancock, on piano and as co-musical director. Most of the tracks were written by de Ness, and a few more in conjunction with Atkinson. Hancock had a big hand in writing the arrangements.
The CD begins with Winter Serenade, a jazz influenced Boss Nova with a tinge of sadness, attesting to her love and understanding of Latin American music. The title track, See Things Like You, is the second track, and is a smoothly swinging number from her Green Tile Tango Club cabaret performance.
A blues, Shine in the Dark, opens with a breathy saxophone introduction from Ray Vine, who then provides a counter statement to the vocals during the rest of the number, with a brief piano solo from Hancock who then extends the dialogue to a three way conversation. They and de Ness create a fascinating trio, as she gives her voice a smoky timbre to fit the song. Just Gets Better returns to the Bossa Nova rhythm, in a song joyfully telling of a love that increases with time.
Cry Me a River is one of the two songs not written by de Ness, but this arrangement allows her to make it completely her own. Mi Amor is another Tango with a clever concept, as it is sung in several languages as the singer tries in many ways to tell somebody that they love them.
If you find yourself walking around the house while Green Tile Tango is playing, and realise that every few steps you add two quick ones, don't worry, the Tango has got you. I defy anybody to hear a Tango and not feel like dancing, especially this one that extols the virtues of this particular club.
You Took features the violinist, Ashley Arbuckle, with cellist, Emma Vanderwal, over a rhythmic pulse from Atkinson, continuing the Tango rhythm. It will take your mind straight to Argentina, where couples are dancing as one, showing why the Tango is known as "the dance of love".
No More Goodbyes changes the mood with a waltz time, while Storyteller is another smoky blues, with a soft rock beat, two contrasting pieces that show the great versatility of de Ness. A Drop in the River is the other piece not written by de Ness, but by Hancock, a short piano solo that de Ness liked and wisely thought worthy of inclusion on her CD.
Live Now is another lively Latin beat number to close the album in style. As the final song finishes, you will find yourself rather disappointed, and immediately start it from the beginning again.
Jen de Ness will be in New York this weekend, and in Sydney on 21st September, so watch out for her tour to promote this CD.
This is one of those albums that you will find yourself listening to time and again, and you really will find yourself swaying and dancing to the infectious Latin beats. With a very fine group of musicians behind her, and de Ness using her exceptionally expressive voice to its full, this will become one of your favourite CDs, so order a copy today.