Along with the ever-widening color palette of Nostalgia 77's investigation of jazz, creator and leader Benedic Lamdin has established himself as a producer of merit. In recent years, he’s helmed two albums that have in turn directly influenced The Sleepwalking Society's direction: Lizzy Parks' excellent This and That, and British singer/songwriter Jeb Loy Nichols' gentle masterpiece Strange Faith and Practice. Lamdin introduces listeners to yet another fine vocalist: German songstress Josa Peit; he also composes or co-writes all these tunes, plays guitar, organ, and produces. Frequent collaborators Riaan Vosloo (bass and string arrangements), Tim Giles (drums), Mark Hanslip (flute), Ross Stanley (piano & organ), James Allsopp (saxophones and clarinet), Fulvio Sigurta (trumpet and horn arrangements), Natalie Rosario (cello), and guests round out this edition of Nostalgia 77. As an album, The Sleepwalking Society is perfectly balanced in construction and articulation. Peit’s smoky, near vibrato-less alto walks an undulating line between Dinah Washington's slippery restraint and Nina Simone’s ethereal middle-period contralto. Peit creates pure atmosphere with that voice; her phrasing underscores every line with poetic meaning. “Sleepwalker” is based on a minor-key blues shuffle. It features wonderful baritone saxophone and B-3 fills under Peit’s taut, emotionally charged delivery. On “Beautiful Lie,” she bridges the chasm in a jazz group that winds trippy Baroque folk and spine-slipping soul into the mix. “Golden Morning” is offered with a haunted, skeletal blues vibe; adorned only by an upright bass, a military snare beat, and a kick drum. “When Love Is Strange,” with its angular funky breaks, mournful New Orleans-style horns, and a swelling B-3, is possessed of by an eerie sense of nameless, forgotten chanteuses singing in long-emptied Berlin jazz clubs left to ruin, without sounding nostalgic. “Blue Shadow”'s lithe funky backbeat is adorned by cello, clarinet, B-3, nylon-string guitar, and understated bassline until the chorus, when the brass kicks in hard. Peit swings the lyric from the bellybone until its drips from her mouth. The Sleepwalking Society is a stunner; a jazz-pop record with brilliant R&B and folk undertones woven throughout. Lamdin's pushed himself further than ever, melding disparate genres and arrangements effortlessly; and in the process, he’s brought to light yet another stellar song stylist in Peit.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek