These days, in case you hadn't noticed it, we're seeing the Second Coming of The Great American Songbook and I, for one, couldn't be happier, but within that move has slowly erupted an inexorable evolution among the more adventurous and slyly subversive singers, a path towards later works following the older tradition in their own post-Tin Pan Alley way. Audrey Martin's one such melodious revolutionary, and, in Living Room, she's included a choice selection of judiciously chosen Baby Boomer work much deserving of increasing revisitation. It's inevitable that this will continue happen, you know that, dear reader, and thus I can only suggest that you dive in and dig the cool—and, in this case, surprisingly classy for what I first guessed was a strictly jazz affair but isn't—waters.
I think the key turnaround is Wild is the Wind, ripped from its stormy operatic milieu (think Bowie), spun around the night club, and set to jiving with the hep cats in the smoke-filled back corner, a Route 66 treatment. And speaking of that old TV series, with its theme by Bobby Troup, Martin tackles Bob's Meaning of the Blues, this time Rosetti-esque in its poetic aspects, Romantic undertones, and novo-madrigal flavors, Larry Dunlap, definitely Audrey's main man throughout the disc, soon taking the cut pianistically down promenades and cloisters. Joni Mitchell's Blue goes a step even further, into the recital room with blue-bloods and chamber aficionados, gowns and tuxedos aflutter.
Martin seems classically trained, not in opera but much in the manner of a Streisand, Judy Collins, or stage chanteuse, Leonard Cohen's Hey, That's no Way to Say Goodbye (with a good deal of Suzanne thrown in) grabbing a warmly mellifluous center-stage spotlight in that fashion. In fact, the further in one goes, the more it's evident that Living Room is not just a jazz effort, that's only part of it, but oft a brace of etudes and sonatas. Even the dreamy-torchy The Touch of Your Lips receives an evocative blend of styles. This, I think, is the direction such endeavors will have to go, especially in the hands of those unwilling to be just an evolved version of Mantovani or Mitch Miller. Singers like Audrey Martin and Nicki Schrire, much in harmony with the wont of so much of the best of recent generations, are ahead of the pack, lighting the way, and setting the pace. Here's the proof.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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