Judith Owen

Lost and Found

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You'll probably find this album in the jazz section, but don't be fooled. Singer/songwriter/pianist Judith Owen is to jazz what Richard Thompson is to rock & roll -- a member of the loyal opposition, someone whose roots are both centuries deeper and more broadly contemporary than any easy genre designation can account for. On her fifth album, she opens with a brooding voice-and-piano arrangement of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water," and although her generally jazzy originals fill up most of the remainder of the program, she also takes excursions into both the jazz standard repertoire (a great version of "Night and Day," featuring Richard Thompson on guitar) and more pop-oriented fare (a slightly less revelatory take on the Police's "Walking on the Moon"). Her singing style is a sort of sultry cabaret croon, and almost always adds a slightly mysterious and subtly unexpected element to her interpretations -- whether it's the strangely separated scat vowels on "Train Out of Hollywood" or (less felicitously) her unnecessarily intense delivery on "These Foolish Things." Her own songs are some of the best things on this album, though her version of "Night and Day" is another clear highlight. Recommended.

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