Olivia Foschi: Perennial Dreamer

H. Allen Williams reviews debut album from singer

Fresh, innovative and refreshingly uplifting – these are the descriptive phrases I would use to define Olivia Foschi’s debut release Perennial Dreamer. What immediately comes into view is her innate ability to write and compose. Perennial Dreamer highlights nine original compositions, and when shared duties with Owens and others comes into play the experience is sweetened by its result. Ulysses Owens Jr. is the producer on this project that formed originally about 5 years ago at a Masterclass in Italy. Foschi, not knowing that Owens was also a producer formed a friendship through the years and in casual conversation mentioned her impending endeavor and Owens fortuitously mentioned he was a producer, the conversation lead to the culmination of Perennial Dreamer and the result is divine.

Foschi has a resonate voice that floats atop the melodies in an almost ethereal way; the transparency in her alto register is what makes her stand out in a pleasing fashion. Supported by harmonica player Gregoire Maret in "Here's that Rainy Day" and "Everything Happens to Me," Foschi’s improvisational vocal melodies have a defining internal rhythm that lends itself to a matter of fact delivery that is very convincing. The soft texture of her vocal timbre on "I Adore You" has a young effervescence of innocence to it while “Disillusionment" highlights a more biting style with an underpinning of powerful accompaniment by Miki Hayama's who contours her verses masterfully.

The dreamy and sensitive feel of "Daydream" is ornamented by tasteful colors and delicate accompaniment as Foschi delivers the poignant lyric, trumpeter Mike Cottone lends his flugelhorn sensitivities to the track, and elevates the beauty of the cut to a pinnacle.

“Alone Together” sports a vibrancy that could almost cross over to pop radio – wouldn’t it be nice if pop radio actually had this type of good taste, I digress. David Rosenthal's guitar chords create a bounce and Owens drums add the right dramatic curve to make this track soar. Hayama's piano solo truly shines, while Foschi's vocal improvisations lift the track’s solo section with an International flare. "Legend of the Purple Valley" has a truly continental feel – like a lover's serenade, I felt transported. The track is composed by pianist Hiromi and features lyrics penned by Foschi, the combination of both composers’ ideas is absolutely gorgeous. You can hear the conviction in Foschi’s voice, she truly connects to the lyric – he story is convincing, her vocal ideas compliment the melody for a triumphant rendering.

Foschi is today’s vocalist, blazing the trail for a new style of jazz vocals, not adhering to traditional sounds or rhythms, but appealing to a new generation of listeners, while still honoring jazz as a tradition. She is truly original and far from the norm as a composer and as a vocalist. Worth the listen, and highly recommended.

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H. Allen Williams