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Friday, June 05, 2015

CD Review: Juliet Kelly - Spellbound Stories

Juliet Kelly (vocals); Nick Ramm (piano/keyboards); Oli Hayhurst (bass); Eddie Hick (drums);
Manjeet Singh Rasiya (tabla on track 9)
(Review by Ann Alex).
This CD, Ms Kelly’s fourth, is made up of original songs based on novels.  I approached it with some trepidation as I believe that genre mixing doesn’t always work, but I needn’t have worried as Ms Kelly has come up with a truly enjoyable and interesting (in the best sense) work.  She certainly knows how to write effective lyrics, memorable, meaningful, with lots of good ‘hooks’.  
All the tracks are her own songs except for Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, which is a wonderfully simple arrangement sung with keyboard accompaniment.  Songs are based on novels such as Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’ (Forbidden Fruit); C S Lewis’s ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Magic and Mystery); and Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ (Ghosts). The novels chosen all contain elements of magic and the supernatural. Ms Kelly’s voice is a pleasing alto and the arrangements are quirky, lilting and rhythmical by turns, played by skilful musicians, with good use of keyboard tones, and double tracking of the voice and choral effects on some tracks.
 I especially liked Little Things with its Latin rhythm and light ‘clicky’ drums, and Ghosts, sung to an ooh sound, with bass and piano solos.  In fact I’d venture to say that any of these tracks could become jazz standards if they were played often enough.  You can hear these songs if you go to the launch at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on June 18, but you needn’t go so far away, as the band are appearing at the Queen’s Hall in Hexham on September 19.
Spellbound Stories is released on June 22 on Purple Stiletto Records.
Full details of the novels are on www.julietkelly.com
Ann Alex.

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