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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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CHARLIE WOOD

New Souvenirs

perdido DOR-1401

 

 

  1. No Repose

  2. Music Is My Monkey

  3. Promised Land

  4. Angel of Despair

  5. Detaché

  6. Don't Think

  7. Until the Fall

  8. Mercy

  9. Tube

  10. The Tide

  11. Ghost Town

  12. Winter Song

    Charlie Wood - Vocals, piano, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, Hammond B-3

    Tom Walsh - Trumpet, flugelhorn

    Mark Nightingale - Trombone

    Ben Castle - Saxophone

    Chris Allard - Electric, acoustic guitar

    Dudley Phillips - Electric, acoustic bass

    Nic France - Drums, percussion

    Jacqui Dankworth - Backing vocals

    Magnus Johnston - Leader (strings)

    Marije Ploemacher, Marcus Barcham-Stevens - Violins 1 and 2

    Clare Finnimore, Simone van der Giessen - Violas

    Caroline Dearnley, Jane Fenton - Cellos

Make no mistake about it, Charlie Wood is a rare talent. As a composer, he contributed three songs to Jacqui Dankworth's 2014 album Live To Love and as a musician he provided splendid accompaniment on piano and Fender Rhodes as a significant part of her backing group on that disc. He even helped out his wife (he is married to Jacqui) with backing vocals. Well, the compliment is returned by Jacqui vis a vis both co-production and backing vocals on this new CD from Charlie, New Souvenirs. Wood's singing voice is something of a revelation when it occupies centre stage, as it does here. It is easy on the ear, jazz inflected and with a touch of soul. The nearest comparison I can make is with Harry Connick Jnr but Wood is quite distinctive. He's also written all the songs on the album and shows a poetic, literate ability, producing wry, funny and rueful lyrics as well as catchy tunes.

There are some great musicians on this session, too. Wood himself is no slouch when it comes to piano, organ or electric keyboard (listen, for example, to Music Is My Monkey, Angel of Despair or Winter Song to get some idea of his range). Chris Allard on guitar is faultless throughout as is Ben Castle on sax and, if you want to hear a musician near the top of his game, try Ghost Town and trombonist Mark Nightingale. Bass player Dudley Phillips has an inventive solo here, too). The Wheeler-like Tom Walsh is heard to good effect on Until the Fall.

Among an embarrassment of riches, I especially liked Promised Land featuring the organ in waltz-time plus Allard's melodic touch, Detaché which is jaunty, infectious and all too brief, sung stylishly by Wood, and Mercy, another Allard showcase but with a strong instrumental showing by Wood, too. Wood shows a consistent capacity to deliver a lyric with clarity and panache, almost anywhere you choose to listen. The only track which didn't quite hit the spot for me was Tube yet even in this case, the ensemble work was of a high standard, for instance.

From what I've written, you'll gather that I rate this album. It's certainly one I'll be coming back to - songs like Mercy are firmly lodged in the memory bank after a mere couple of hearings!

James Poore



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