Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Sara Gazarek & Josh Nelson: Dream in the Blue

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

As vocalist Sara Gazarek has explained, she and pianist Josh Nelson have spent the past decade “growing up together, musically and personally.” Nelson is a band member on all four of Gazarek’s previous releases, she’s made guest appearances on two of his, and they’ve frequently collaborated as songwriters, their joint repertoire including three of the dozen tracks included here. For the past year and a half they’ve taken their professional partnership to a new level, touring in tandem and preparing Dream in the Blue, their debut duo album.

One of the purest-voiced, most compelling singers around, Gazarek has a singular style that suggests the marvelous slyness of Karrin Allyson blended with the folk-dusted litheness of Kate McGarry, underscored by an enticing soupcon of country. Nelson truly is her ideal musical match-his playing lean, mellow and subtly dramatic, with the same folk-country undercurrents.

They serve up deeply thoughtful treatments of several standards, including a shimmering “O Pato,” a powerfully sensual “No Moon at All” and clever weavings of “Blackbird” with “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Without a Song” with Nick Drake’s “Cello Song.” But it’s across the four originals (including one written solely by Nelson) that their shared magic shines brightest, particularly on “Behind Me,” a roiling tale of romantic uncertainty that ultimately leads to contentment, and its emotional opposite, “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” a heartbreaker worthy of Hank Williams.

Purchase this issue from Barnes & Noble or Apple Newsstand. Print and digital subscriptions are also available.

Originally Published