BWW Album Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant's FALLING Will Capture Your Attention and Imagination

For her first album of original music, Kristen Lee Sergeant sets a high bar for herself.

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Glenn Close once said that jazz was the closest thing to a musical expression of life that she had, yet, come across (I know this because she said it to me). At the time, I considered it to be a thought both profound and poetic, and it stayed in my memory. Recently, the philosophy bubbled up to the front of my mind while listening to Kristen Lee Sergeant's new album Falling. For her first album of original compositions, Ms. Sergeant takes a deep dive into a journey best described as the musical equivalent to a Martha Graham dance concert. In nine original tracks and one interpretation of a classic, KLS creates a musical exploration that will be one of the most unique and uniquely individual albums you will ever own. As, one by one, Kristen Lee uses her skill as a jazz vocalist, her training as a musical theater actress and her burgeoning talent as a songwriter, the moods, shades, and colors that travel the path from speaker to ears to heart will inspire visceral visions of life experiences from the listener's past, present, and the future they have created in their mind. Whether these emotional reactions come from Sergeant's sophisticated lyrics, interesting melodic lines, or constantly changing time signatures will matter not: all that counts here is the journey and the immense pleasure to be derived from taking that journey - and, a word to the wise, press play and then lie down and listen, listen, listen. Take the deep dive with Kristen.

Opening the album with her (sort of) title track "Let's Fall," KLS announces, immediately, her intention at trying something new. One structural surprise after another awaits, not to mention very palpable acting as the songstress squeezes an extra word or two into certain sentences that make one think "That doesn't belong there, how did she do that?" The answer is easy: she understands the writer's intention, as any singer should, but especially a jazz singer who needs to balance their interpretive translations with the importance of respecting the author's intent. KLS has that inclination, anyway, so working with herself makes the end result not only more attainable but more valuable. From here, the album simply becomes more fascinating and fun with each cut - it's kind of like being on a really good boutique drug and seeing your life mapped out, right before your own eyes. How else could Kristen Lee, so seamlessly, chart the futility of life in "Sisyphus"? Not only will the listener get it, they will feel it, and find their head nodding in agreement and understanding. Listen to the lyrics but feel the rhythm in the music. This is musical storytelling at its highest level, guttural, tangible, and absolutely relatable.

KLS has seen to it that the quality of her album maintains the highest possible standards by inviting pianist Jeb Patton, drummer Jay Sawyer, cellist Jody Redhage Ferber, bassist Hannah Marks and soprano sax star Ted Nash to join her in this endeavor, and every discernible effort is made to showcase the musicians through a wealth of intricate solos that will inspire the holding of breath and the releasing of appreciative laughter. Of course, producers Kabir Sehgal and Mr. Nash have outdone themselves in their efforts to ensure that the mixing and mastering keep every artist audibly balanced with equity - at no time is any artist on the album shoved into the background or overshadowed by anything else. It's a major boon to a project that is nothing but highlights, as each song seems to build to something more thrilling than the last, which is why this writer urges listeners to take the trip from start to finish - only then can the build-up of emotion be fully appreciated as "Birdsong" segues to "Chiaroscuro," which transitions to "Honey" (this was a particularly engaging section of the album for this writer). Then, just when you think you've heard it all, "Infinity Blues" starts off with a solo from Nash that promises greatness which, obviously, it delivers. From start to finish, Falling is an album with an eloquence that makes one regret that Sergeant has been keeping her songwriting skills under wraps for so long. No matter, though: they are out in the world now and, with any luck, KLS and co. will get back into the studio soon for a follow-up to this new corridor of her artistic trajectory. In the meantime, this is an album that promises to be one frequently played and thoroughly enjoyed. Falling never felt so good.

Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING is a 2022 release on the Tiger Turn label and is available on all platforms.

Kristen Lee Sergeant has a website HERE.



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