John Fordham, The Guardian

1st April 2005

This is coming from a completely different place to Jason Moran, but British jazz-soul legend Carol Grimes is just as aware that her roots and the circumstances that shaped her are unique. This is an honest, unadorned and artlessly simple set, produced by fellow singer Ian Shaw on songs by Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Joni Mitchell, Fran Landesman and others. High-class jazz instrumental input comes from the likes of locals Harry Beckett (trumpet), Elton Dean (sax) and Annie Whitehead (trombone).

The quality of the singer and the songs really invite a longer exploration of the resources of the instrumentation - as on Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, whose cello and vocal choruses deserve more luxuriousness. But Grimes is typically soulful and hard-nosed on Ian Shaw's Moira, while Ron Sexsmith's Gold in Them Hills makes her seem as youthful as at any time in the past 30 years. Joni Mitchell's Two Grey Rooms is reverentially desperate, and the John Lennon title track cuts her loose on the kind of wild, declamatory soulfulness that might perhaps have played a bigger part in the set. But Grimes is a great UK talent, and anything that nurtures her is to be recommended.

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The Musicians