No More Blues
Naxos of America
Power is only an asset if you know how to handle the throttle, a lesson Finnish Berklee grad Johanna Grussner seems to have learned throughout the past decade as, variously, a big-band leader, an a cappella singer and a music teacher. Showing off her sold-gold pipes to full advantage on No More Blues (Naxos), Grussner shifts gears with the curve-hugging proficiency of formula one star Michael Schumacher. With a voice akin to ice wine-crisp, pure and clear while simultaneously warm and chilled, Grussner adeptly navigates 10 standards that range from appropriately dreamy renderings of "My Ship" and "I'm Old Fashioned" to a raw, scintillating "Hallelujah, I Just Love Him" and a champagne-tart "Desafinado." Her reworking of "Help" as a pleading ballad adds nothing particularly interesting to the Lennon-McCartney chart-topper, but its deficiencies are easily made up for with a version of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" even more enchantingly soporific than Roberta Flack's.