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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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Elisabeth Lohninger – Eleven Promises

Elisabeth Lohninger (vocals): Walter Fischbacher (keyboards, string arrangements): Goran Vujic (bass): Ulf Stricker (drums); Ben Butler (guitar:5, 9): Pete McCann (guitar 1, 3): Gary Schreiner (chromatic harmonica 7)

Recorded Doghouse Studios, Ertstadt, Germany

JAZZ SICK RECORDS 5097 [65:58]

 

 

 

 

 

 

When We Were Young

The Girl from Ipanema

Take My Picture While I am Smiling

Eleven Promises

Birthday Girl

And If

Mellow Moon Moaning

Each Time You Leave

Hold On

Merry Go Round

Circles

Ya Mi Corazon.

 

There’s a single standard here, though one can probably also include Ya Mi Corazon, as it’s based on Tirso Duarte’s Cuenta con los Santos. Centre-stage is singer Elisabeth Lohninger who either wrote or co-composed the remainder of the programme with keyboard player Walter Fischbacher. It’s a tough album to review, for reasons that will become apparent.

When We Were Young has plenty of string wash and this gives it a laid back and rather over-easy charm that doesn’t quite reveal Lohninger’s rich mezzo at its best. To de-latinise The Girl from Ipanema is a decision not to be taken lightly but that’s pretty much what happens here. I sense a subtle infusion of stripped back Gospel in Take My Picture, though it’s certainly not a Mahalia Jackson affair. Better is Eleven Promises where Fischbacher provides a good solo and where the harmonies are attractive, indeed compelling. Birthday Girl has an admixture of bluesy guitar courtesy of Ben Butler – he plays on two tracks only – and there’s the harmonica of Gary Schreiner to add sonic colour to Mellow Moon Moaning – thought the wordless shouted vocal to end it won’t be to all tastes.

Rather repetitious – but funky, with wa-wa-like guitar – Hold On generates a good groove whilst Merry Go Round is a pleasingly pop-like opus, genially up-tempo but again cursed with a moment of vocal grandstanding at the end. All this suggests a rather stylistically unfocused set and I wouldn’t disagree. I happen to like Ya Mi Corazon the best of all the dozen tracks. It’s the most interesting and exciting piece and is played well. More standards would have given ballast to this undernourished selection and would have drawn out Lohninger’s striking voice better. The string-wash arrangements are too vapid; a stripped-back set would have been much the best idea.

Jonathan Woolf



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