On her previous album, This Girl's Got to Play -- which was inspired by the soul-searching she did post 9/11 -- this popular San Francisco-based smooth jazz guitarist made an ongoing commitment to making music about things that matter. Joyce Cooling's early album titles were cute twists on her name, but the Revolving Door she's referring to on this diverse and heartfelt disc goes into some deep territory; it's about the cycle of mental illness, which she knows intimately about due to growing up with a brother who was schizophrenic. That sounds like heavy stuff for an artist in a genre that's usually about happy escapist music, but Cooling finds a way to balance the darker edges with the joyful breeziness that has long endeared her to fans. First the shadier stuff, off the smooth path: the title track is a seductive and emotional blues-drenched expression featuring some of her most gutsy, heartfelt playing ever; it's reminiscent of some of Larry Carlton's brilliant fusions of smooth jazz and real blues. Though it only runs for over a minute, the simple and percussive acoustic tune "In Case of Rain" delves into some interesting Brazilian territory, while "Jesse's Bench" more fully explores her talent for gritty emotional digging on the acoustic. Powered by trippy and hypnotic backing vocals, "Cool of the Night" is all vibey, atmospheric, exotic, retro, and has an irresistible straight-ahead drum brush-driven groove. These songs show tremendous artistic growth for both her and her longtime keyboardist partner Jay Wagner, but Cooling's bread and butter will always be lighthearted gems like the opening tune "Mildred's Attraction," and the jubilant, brass-enhanced "At the Modern." The guitarist always includes a few pleasant vocals in the mix, and the most memorable one here, on the sparsely arranged live track "I'll Always Love You (Ode to the Audience)" directly addresses her love affair with the fans. They'll be giving a lot of love back thanks to the magic of this collection.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran