When I Close My Eyes
Four years ago, Californian Ann Dyer knocked traditional views of pop-jazz singing on their ear with Revolver: A New Spin, her bracingly experimental revitalization of the Beatles classic. Now the outre stylist with the serene sound is back with the more challenging When I Close My Eyes (Sunnyside), an otherworldly assemblage of themes and metaphoric images that range from nakedly sensual to obtusely disquieting. The poetry (so mundane a term as "lyrics" simply doesn't apply here)-some borrowed from such disparate sources as Emily Dickinson and Bjork, but mostly Dyer's own-suggests an underwater grotto matted with waving seaweed and illuminated by dust-filtered rays. She draws soft, shimmering word pictures, each more challenging than the last, and wraps them in dreamy gauze. It's all tremendously accomplished and admirably daring, yet it veers dangerously close to becoming the jazz equivalent of one of those faux wave machines designed to help lull you to sleep.