Catherine Russell

Sentimental Streak

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Ignoring both the smooth school of jazz vocals and the soft croon of Norah Jones, Catherine Russell digs deep into jazz and blues traditions on Sentimental Streak. One might call her approach old-fashioned, and it is, but the mostly acoustic arrangements and her resonate lower range sound fresh on Sentimental Streak. One might be reminded of the recent Erin McKeown album, Sing You Sinners, another fresh take on classic jazz. One pitfall that Russell -- like McKeown -- avoids is treating both the old and new songs she covers as serious and sacred. In other words, she offers treatments of "Kitchen Man" and "My Old Daddy's Got a Brand New Way to Love" that are fun. These two songs, pulled from the repertoires of Bessie Smith and Alberta Hunter, also remind one how easily classic blues melds with classic jazz. Russell's vocals are underpinned by lively, mostly spare, arrangements that vary from song to song, keeping Sentimental Streak from ever settling into a predictable groove. Likewise, she mixes ballads like "South to a Warmer Place" with groovier fare like "Thrill Me." Acoustically speaking, the pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, basses, accordions, and violins have also been recorded well. With Sentimental Streak, Russell has delivered an album that is easy to like and easy to recommend.

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