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06/03/12

Holly Cole
Steal the Night: Live at the Glenn Gould Studio
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Throughout most of the ’90s, vocalist Holly Cole and her trio mates, pianist Aaron Davis and bassist David Piltch, could be counted on for a new album every year. But during the new millennium their output became more erratic, ceasing altogether after their ninth studio release, 2007’s Holly Cole. Finally, late last year, the über-tight trio (augmented by drummer-percussionist Davide DiRenzo, Piltch’s guitarist brother Robert and John Johnson on multiple horns and percussion) reunited for this live date, captured at Toronto’s acoustically sublime Glenn Gould Studio.

The reward for such a long wait between albums is a Cole not so much refreshed or reinvented as fully ripened. The mannered style that defined much of her earlier work has been significantly diminished, replaced by a deeper, richer sound and a generally cooler, shrewder sensibility. Much of the playlist (nine tracks on CD, 11 on the accompanying DVD) is plucked from earlier albums, including Cole’s signature of sorts, “I Can See Clearly Now,” and the clever, Cole Porter-esque list song “Larger Than Life” that she wrote and recorded for the 2007 album. New to the mix—perhaps fodder for the 10th studio album the trio just completed, due out this spring—are a touchingly woebegone “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues,” a superbly variegated “Smile,” a blistering rollercoaster ride through Tom Waits’ “Down, Down, Down” and the sly, slinking Cole original “You’ve Got a Secret” that suggests a simultaneous channeling of Billie Holiday and Eartha Kitt.

Originally published in May 2012
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