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Dara Tucker: The Sun Season

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Dara Tucker’s voice is like warm caramel, sweet and soulful. It’s a voice that would feel right at home at Motown circa 1966 or in a touring production of Dreamgirls. Three years have passed since Tucker’s last disc, and she’s spent much of that time writing the material that fills The Sun Season. The overall effect is like sitting aside a babbling brook-slow, peaceful and mesmeric. The overarching theme is romantic optimism, sometimes budding, sometimes satisfied, sometimes euphoric. The mood, as the title suggests, remains almost invariably sunny, though hazily so.

Lovely as it all is, there’s a nagging sense of sameness, the tracks tending to blend into one another. Though a fine lyricist and composer, Tucker reaches too often for the same brush. Even the playlist’s two standards, “Over the Rainbow” and “The Nearness of You,” seem cut from the same cloth. Only once is the pattern broken, with “Giants,” a fierce testament to pluck and perseverance. Perhaps because it is so different, so vitally fresh, it stands head and shoulders above the nine other originals. Kudos, too, to Tucker’s rhythm section: pianist Helen Sung, bassist Greg Bryant and drummer Donald Edwards. While respectfully following the mellow curves of Tucker’s vocals, each player incorporates deft touches, adding welcome depth and texture.

Originally Published