Winters & Mays is a junior release for vocalist Aimée Allen. Her first release Dream introduced Allen conquering predominately jazz standards with ease and command. Her second recording l'Inexplicable, released in 2007, was an all original français release, which was only available as a digital release for download. The common thread that runs through each recording is Aimée’s supple and versatile vocals. Allen is definitely much more than a standards singer, she is a composer and songstress that can shape and weave a storyline like some of the classic folk writer luminary’s like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.
Allen is joined by Guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Toru Dodo, bassist Craig Akin, and drummer Jacob Melchior, Accordion virtuoso Victor Prieto who is a guest artist on three tracks, adding an international sound to the already alluring arrangements.
Allen traverses many textures within this delightful offering. Starting off, with a well known classic “Peel Me a Grape” the listener is immediately turned onto the fact that this will not be a usual excursion. Allen’s delivery and phrasing is slinky and confident, harkening back to the seductive wiles of Peggy Lee. Aptly supported by a technically professed ensemble, they bring this classic cut into the 21st century. An intimately delicate “Samba em preludio” calms the listener and showcases Allen at what she does best, stretching her voice across the canvas with highs and lows, taking the listener on an emotional journey of lyric and voice.
An original composition “Eden Autumn and Noah Too” is truly a gift to Allen’s nieces and nephew, a fitting homage to youth and the splendor of the journey. Allen is convicted in her delivery, as the ensemble creates a moody and driving ala Middle Eastern sound. Allen soars above the instruments with vocal lines; truly a moving piece among a powerful collection of well chosen compositions.
“I’ll Get Along, “another Allen original explores the all too familiar human state of broken relations. A poignant anthem for those currently in pain and the hope tomorrow brings. You might find yourself recognizing the cut “Love Aloud,” Aimée’s inspired lyric to the Pat Metheny composition “Always and Forever” is also included here, with his permission, as a new title, “Love Aloud.” Allen’s voice soars in an ethereal high register, and then takes it path all the way down into her chest voice where it resonates with depth and clarity, as it signifies the closing of the song and sends the listener on their way.
“Fragile” a Sting composition, is given a mid-tempo burn as Allen’s unaffected vocal style delineates the lyric with precision. One of the qualities I enjoyed immensely throughout this journey is the way that Allen does not use a lot of vibrato in her voice to get her message across; her notes are pure and focused. “Two For the Road,” is given a ballad treatment that features Allen and Toro Dodo in a very organic and exposed duet setting, truly showing Allen’s vocal control over her instrument and the chemistry between Allen and Dodo. Both fine musicians.
Winters & Mays is the breath of summer and the cool breeze of winter, perfect for any day, any month, or anytime. A beautiful collection of well-chosen covers and well-crafted originals, and a fine calling card for Allen as a composer, arranger, vocalist and stylist that will surely attract new fans to this truly evolving and expansive vocal jazz artist.
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