You know vocalist Jackie Allen, or you certainly should, given her track record of 11 uniformly exceptional albums over three decades. Hans Sturm, Allen’s husband, is likely a less familiar name, though the bassist and producer has been the essential yang to her yin for much of her career. Rose Fingered Dawn, yet another triumph for Allen, deservedly brings Sturm more fully into the mix, again as bandmate and producer, but also as writer of all 10 tracks, most drawing on his and Allen’s shared life experiences.
Allen has always been a chameleonic talent, coloring her voice to become one with the tune. On the opening title track, a serpentine travelogue that draws upon both a voyage through Morocco and The Odyssey, Allen channels the dark exoticism of Eartha Kitt, before diving deep into Big Easy blues for the slithery “NOLA Love Song.” She defines “Steal the Night,” a eulogy to two lost friends inspired by Dylan Thomas, with hymn-like tenderness underscored by the subtlest of otherworldly chills. Conversely, she’s all funky pluck on “Bel Air BBQ,” a sizzling, bop-lined salute to Kansas City.