The Watery Graves of Portland

The Watery Graves of Portland and Genevieve

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The Watery Graves of Portland are an experimental jazz combo consisting of pianist Curtis Knapp, bassist Davis Lee Hooker, and drummer Adrian Orange. "Genevieve" is Geneviève Castrée, a French-Canadian singer/songwriter inspired by the deep emotional complexity of Jacques Brel's cabaret material. Working together, The Watery Graves of Portland and Genevieve is a fruitful cross-genre collaboration heavily reminiscent (in spirit, not sound) of Brigitte Fontaine's classic early-'70s work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Comme à la Radio. The Watery Graves of Portland mostly cede the spotlight to Castrée's compelling, changeling voice. Only three of the album's 11 songs break the three-minute mark, so there is no room for extended instrumental improvisations; the three musicians make their statements quickly, with little flourish, and let Castrée's Francophone vocals take over, alternately girlish and singsongy like one of Serge Gainsbourg's pop Lolitas (as on the opening "Un Peu Comme Dersou") and venturing into the moody rasp of the cabaret chanteuse ("Inquietude," the stark, a cappella "Intemperies"). As a result, there's a stripped-down simplicity to this brief album that at times verges on sounding merely unfinished, as if there are musical and vocal ideas deliberately left unexplored.

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