Net Rhythms Review
Carol Grimes - Mother (Irregular/CG)
This is a seriously fine comeback album that really Delivers! (Pun intended - remember Carol's feisty contributions to the 70s blues-soul scene with Babylon and Delivery?) Long overdue as far as Carol's many fans are concerned, Mother absolutely screams quality - though sometimes with a whisper! It was released quite a few months ago now, and met with more than a modicum of critical acclaim, mostly on the jazz circuit, yet for some reason it hadn't surfaced from my backlog of review albums until comparatively recently. And it's another one that I'm sorry to have not picked up earlier, for it's a real cracker that I've been playing a lot. Carol's a true "vocalist's vocalist", and sensuous to the last in the Billie Holiday tradition (the only contemporary comparison I dare invoke in that field is Helen Watson); she gives her all in seasoned interpretative flair, authoritatively personalising each and every song in a sequence of twelve drawn from a variety of musical sources that range from Tom Waits (New Coat Of Paint), Ron Sexsmith (Gold In Them Hills), Randy Newman (Better Than Dead) and Shane McGowan (USA) to John Lennon (the title track). Carol also comes up trumps early on in the CD with one of the best versions I know of Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where The Time Goes? (and I've heard a good few in my time ...!) – set to a mysterious, magical, languid chamber-jazz-tinged groove. And Carol's version of Joni Mitchell's Two Grey Rooms turns out to be pretty amazing too. Whether in a jazzy-blues or folk-chanson setting, Carol's diction and phrasing are exemplary, demonstrating her aptitude for astringent humour one minute (Scars) and intimate confessional the next (Nick Cave's Into My Arms), and equally adept whether grittily belting or confidentially, seductively cooing. Not only is Carol herself in excellent vocal form throughout, but she's supported by some perennially classy sidemen including Greg Wain (guitars), Elton Dean (saxes), Steve Watts (double bass), Stan Adler (cello), Annie Whitehead (trombone) and Harry Beckett (trumpet), while the album's producer/arranger Ian Shaw contributes organ and piano. Ian's co-written one track (Moira) with Carol herself, while Carol's other composition sets the ruminative beat-bop poetry of Blues For Louis to a fascinating and ever-changing soundscape. Mother is altogether a really special, stunning and invigorating set, both faultlessly tasty and tasty to a fault.