Ruth Cameron

First Songs

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On her debut recording, Cameron (influenced by Jeri Southern and coached by Sue Raney) sports a thin, wispy vocal quality that recalls Blossom Dearie. On this set of five standards and two originals by Abbey Lincoln -- mainly ballads -- she's backed by husband/bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Larance Marable, and pianist Chris Dawson. Except for the more uptempo, kitschy "Slow Boat to China," the fare is slow and easy -- a mix of positive and regretful love songs more than downtrodden blues. Her mid-range voice is most effective on "He's Funny That Way," and the only substantive solo is Haden's on "First Song" with Lincoln's "deep-as-the-sea, like you and me" poetic lyrics and Cameron cooing at the coda. A lugubriously slow "Young & Foolish" as well as "The Night We Called It a Day" and "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" are also in patient, measured form. The singer's mellow tones reflect joy and pain in an intimate way, but she will appeal only to specialized tastes of the aforementioned vocalists. Buyers should notice the CD (more like an EP) does not even hit 26 minutes total time, less than even the quickest running vinyl LP. Hopefully this short stack is not a reflection of limited repertoire. Nonetheless, this recording should be bought at a budget price. One should expect more, especially instrumentally.

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