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October 2008

Rigmor Gustafsson
Alone With You
ACT Music + Vision

Since her return to Stockholm in 1996 and her subsequent signing with the German-based ACT label, Swedish singer-songwriter Rigmor Gustafsson has recorded three fine sets of covers, including a Bacharach-David tribute done in tandem with pianist Jacky Terrasson and a classy salute to the music of Michel Legrand. Now, with Alone With You, which has already earned her top jazz prize at the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy Awards, Gustafsson shapes her first album of entirely original material. On previous ACT sessions, brass (particularly the trombone of Nils Landgren) has always been strongly present. Here, Gustafsson opts for subtler backing, working with keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, allowing her arrestingly hearty voice to fully, properly shine.

Things get off to a so-so start with the flatly pedestrian “In My World,” but the album quickly gains momentum. Demonstrating the same sort of wit and wisdom that make Lorraine Feather’s tunes so consistently enjoyable, Gustafsson crafts such varied delights as the slinky “Voodoo Skills,” about a woman willing to resort to black magic to invigorate a tepid relationship, the witty kiss-off “You Don’t Have to Worry,” delivered as a mock-sinister lament, the pouty “Don’t Do It in Here” (sort of a postmillennial “It’s My Party” with a scorned lover berating her ex and his new paramour) and the swirling, soaring freedom and joy of “On Higher Ground.” Perhaps, though, it is the closing title track, a dreamy dissection of an ideal romantic evening that turns out to be pure fantasy, that best exemplifies the strength of Gustafsson’s writing, and performing, skills.

Originally published in October 2008
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