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Barbara Balzan Quartet: Tender Awakening

I’ve always been of the opinion that water features, if at all necessary, are best kept in the garden. So it was with much distress I greeted the bubbling cascade that engulfs “My One and Only Love,” the opening track of the jumbled pastiche that is Swiss singer Barbara Balzan’s Tender Awakening (TCB). The multilingual Balzan, who sounds a tremendous amount like Jane Oliver (accented with a dash of Edith Piaf and a soupcon of Yma Sumac) is a delight to listen to when she’s placed in delicate settings, as she is on the tender “Seven and Nine,” the reflective “Morning Dew” and the languid “Good Friends Story.” Too often, though, Balzan and her coproducers-pianist Marco Dreifuss, cellist Daniel Pezzotti and contrabass Attilio Zanchi (who also comprise the remaining three-quarters of Balzan’s quartet)-give in to the temptation of overproduction. As a result, such potentially powerful tracks as “Tango Carina,” “The Way of Life” (which sounds like it was rescued from some amateurish college poetry slam) and “Attitude of Mind” are, like the waterlogged opener, drowned in excess.

Originally Published