There is no finer exponent of the, um, German bossa nova scene than Henning Fritzenwalder. The fact that he seems to be holding down that scene all by himself should not be used to discount his achievements as a bossa nova artist, nor should the fact that he used American sidemen (Stephen Gardner and Ben Bailes) and recorded this album in Washington, DC be used to discount the Germanness of his musical project. Although he sings in a breathy coo that harks back explicitly to the style of the great João Gilberto, Fritzenwalder sings almost exclusively in German, and his songs are the stronger for it; without the distraction of those malapropisms that almost invariably occur when an artist tries to write lyrics in a language other than his own, Fritzenwalder's songs are free to impress by reason of sheer musicality and suppleness of groove. Highlights include the gently powerful album opener "Hier Wohnen Wir," with its subtle percussion and elegant, King Crimson-esque guitar lines, and the more sprightly and horn-driven "Sie Sagt." Fritzenwalder could use a few lessons in vocal control -- if you're going to sing bossa right, it needs to sound effortless -- but this is an impressive album overall. Recommended.
Suburban Shore Review
by Rick Anderson