Blanket for My Soul

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In preparation for its major-label debut, Robin Ella; her husband, Cruz Contreras; and their Knoxville-based quartet offer this selection from their two previous self-released albums. From the slow blues "In the Dark" through an innovative, non-Broadway rendition of "Feeling Good," the group swings gently, with a light, airy sound that works well for Ella, whose coquettish, jazzy phrasing compensates somewhat for the thinness of her timbre. If heard live in an intimate coffeehouse, these performances would easily warm the atmosphere; on disc, presented as a listening rather than an ambient experience, a little more variety and more intensity in the rhythm would have been advisable.

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