December 2009

Vox

It’s tough not to admire the pluck of the indie-jazz vocalist. He or she has chosen one of the thorniest of musical paths and is out there all alone, handling everything from bookings and album production to promotion and CD sales. Take Scot Albertson, now four albums into a slowly developing career and slugging as hard as one man can. Trouble is, as is often the case with indie projects, Albertson tries to paint on too broad a canvas. It’s as if, in assembling the 15 tunes for With Every Note, a Step, he’s determined to demonstrate everything he can do. The result is a sort of jazz/cabaret version of a Whitman sampler, with a few creamy ballads, a couple of darker numbers to chew on, a bit of whipped froth and even the occasional nutty addition.

So we’re subject to such discordant pairings as Spike Jones’ silly “Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy” against Andrew Lloyd Webber’s grandiose “Music of the Night,” and the folk prayer “Hymn of the Highlands” beside a jaunty “Save the Bones for Henry Jones.” Albertson has a voice built for Broadway and the dexterity to go with it. Indeed, it seems a voice ideally shaped for the Rodgers & Hammerstein songbook (represented here only once, with a sweetly rendered “No Other Love”). If, on his next outing, he opted for such a narrower focus, it could result in a big step forward.

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