Linda Sharrock

Listen to the Night

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Linda Sharrock was heard in more improvised contexts with her husband, the maverick electric guitarist Sonny Sharrock. To some, it might be surprising that she did this recording with just pianist Eric Watson. Much in the manner of Billie Holiday with Mal Waldron, the inevitable comparisons must be made. Then again, vocalist Sharrock was never heard in such an intimate setting, which could be to her detriment. Naked and up-front, her voice is exposed as a bit strained, forcing dramatism and sporting a limited range. Often she sounds very similar to Joan Armatrading, or considering the time they came into the public eye (mid-'70s), could it be the other way around? The duo does three ballad standards, which are not all that distinctive save Watson's probing or introspective and definitely subtle piano playing. "Calling You," from the film Baghdad Café, really shows the commonality between Sharrock and Armatrading and the original "Welcome" expresses a Native American sound, while "The Bystander" stretches her voice out into the upper stratosphere where few vocalists tread. Watson, a brilliant and criminally under-recognized pianist, is really the star here, and listeners should explore his other group efforts. There is a certain balance and empathy present throughout the date, but one cannot be sure if Sharrock is nonchalant, or trying too hard to prove herself as a disciple of Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, or peers Jay Clayton, Jeanne Lee, and Sheila Jordan.

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