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ICON Suggests: Tierney Sutton's AFTER BLUE - WRTI

Tierney Sutton is a singularly modern chanteuse. She pairs the bright, articulate pitch of a cabaret vocalist with the guts of a jazz singer, one with a strong instinct for improvisation and rhythm. On her tenth recording, a tribute to singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, After Blue stands out as one of Sutton’s most personal and revealing projects. She divulges that Mitchell’s Both Sides Now album is an important and favorite recording and considers it to be equal in stature to Sinatra’s Wee Small Hours album and Billie Holiday’s Lady In Satin.

Sutton’s longtime band, including pianist Christian Jacob and drummer Ray Brinker, had scheduling conflicts that prevented them from participating. Filling in, former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine and keyboardist Larry Goldings (Madeleine Peyroux, James Taylor) along with guitarist Kevin Axt, flutist Hubert Laws and The Turtle Island String Quartet align as stars in Sutton’s constellation of sound.

Sutton approaches Mitchell’s “All I Want,” “Court and Spark,” and “Big Yellow Taxi” with devotional respect, cleverly squaring their pop origins within the jazz realm. Yet, it’s Sutton’s take on “Don’t Go To Strangers” and “Both Sides Now” where voice, instrument and mood effortlessly coalesce and forge a deeper emotional bond to the listener.

The spare arrangements don’t provide any cover for Sutton and she doesn’t need any. Sutton’s sensuous voice digs into this material that often places her with a sole guitar or piano, her voice and feelings laid bare. (12 tracks; 58 minutes).

Nick Bewsey

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