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CD Review: Claudia Morris - Here's to Life

 

Claudia Morris (vocals); Liam Dunachie (piano/keys); Conor Chaplin (bass); David Ingamells (drums); Al Cherry (guitar); Alex Garnett (sax); George Hogg (trumpet/flugel); Laura Stanford, Penny Ainscow, David Lopez (violins 1,2,3); Daisy Spires (viola); Jessica Cox (cello); Claire Finley (backing vocals).

 

I first encountered Claudia Morris back in 2011 on her album  Twelve O'Clock Tales. I was hooked.

Two years later, Ann Alex was equally impressed with Secret Love - Claudia's Doris Day celebration.

Now, the ball's back in my court with her latest - Here's to Life.

 

The standard hasn't dipped - far from it! The voice has mellowed, the theatrical approach has lessened without any loss of emotion and there is warmth exuding by the thermload.

 

Here's to Life: a philosophical look at hopes and dreams helped by some superb string writing and sympathetic guitar accompaniment. (Here's to Life is also due for release as a single on the same day as the CD release - October 6.) 

 

Fly me to the Moon: Soft and seductive. A gentle bossa with Hogg's flugel adding to the ambience.

 

Let There be Love: Hogg takes it up after Claudia's sung/spoken verse and her fairly straight reading. Straightness goes out the window when she returns - must have been the chilli con carne or the sparkling champagne but she sizzles!

 

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman: Carole King nailed this one. Well, she would, wouldn't she? She wrote it! Nevertheless, this version doesn't lose face.

 

Stardust: The verse, now obligatory with Hoagy's hottest, and the melody are both given the pure treatment which is no less than this immortal song deserves.

 

It's Too Late: Another King classic uplifted by some paintstripping by Hogg and Garnett. Claudia edges this one.

 

You've Changed: One of the all-time GASbook classics both lyric and melody-wise. Garnett blows tenor - he knows these changes well. The tension doesn't drop when Claudia picks it up on the bridge, rather it keeps building until, the end of the affair in sight, she gently brings it down. Everyone who's ever been in a failed relationship can relate to this one.

 

For Once in my Life: A natural pick-me-up following the previous song. Our girl is back on her feet and Al Cherry's guitar solo helps to spread the love.

 

To Make You Feel my Love: Bob Dylan was guilty of this one. Different slant with sop sax well featured.

 

Bewitched: Has anyone ever made a bad version of this? I doubt it! The tune, the lyrics are terrific and so sensuous. However, this time, as in most versions, we only get half the story - read the full lyrics as sung by Ella and you feminists out there will be pleased to discover that being Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered isn't terminal!

 

What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?: The greatest musical chat-up line of all time! Claudia interprets Michel Legrand's piece perfectly with some fine piano to gild it.

 

The Nearness of You: Is there a better version? Voice and piano make their bid and succeed.  The perfect ending to an enjoyable album.

 

 

Afterthoughts.

 

Claudia isn't an out and out jazz singer but she can certainly help them out when they're busy and on this disc, she does just that. It's the sort of voice you want to cuddle up to on a cold winter's night (or a balmy summer evening come to that!)

The arrangements are great and the solos superb.

The single and the album are available October 6.

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