Austin-based singer/songwriter Kat Edmonson has built a cult following around her cherubic, jazz-inflected songs. And while she has always utilized the colorful harmonies and clever lyrical melodies of jazz and American popular song, at her core she's a jazz-influenced pop artist, and this album finds her embracing those sensibilities more than ever. If Edmonson's 2012 sophomore album, Way Down Low, found her moving even further afield from the cabaret jazz of 2009's Take to the Sky, then 2014's The Big Picture reveals another evolution toward an all-original approach to making music. Working with producer Mitchell Froom, Edmonson wrote and/or co-wrote all of the songs on The Big Picture. Froom, no stranger to the art of presenting quirky singer/songwriters, having worked with such similarly inclined artists as Ron Sexsmith, Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, and others, is the perfect collaborator for Edmonson. Here, he frames her lilting, Billie Holiday-meets-Blossom Dearie vocals with the kind of '50s and '60s traditional pop sound that Edmonson lightly flirted with on Way Down Low. However, on The Big Picture the singer truly makes this style her own. There is a charming, vintage vibe to many of the album's tracks, with Froom and Edmonson striking a nice balance between cuts that have a retro, orchestral AM pop sound, such as the swinging ballad "Oh My Love," and a more contemporary folk sound, as on the poignant "All the Way." Elsewhere, Edmonson delves into Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western drama ("You Can't Break My Heart"), breezy '60s lounge music ("Avion"), and Brill Building echo-chamber romanticism ("For Two"). Ultimately, by bringing all of her influences together with Froom's help, Edmonson's own unmistakable sound comes into fine focus on The Big Picture.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar