No Connection Morrison (Music Thoughts: Warm & Cozy, Barbara Morrison)

Sometimes you will just never ‘connect’ with a singer. Over the years, I have tried to listen to the singer Barbara Morisson, even seeing her live in concert, and I just felt…nothing. I find nothing unique with her voice – to me she sounds like any generic sounding ‘soul’ voice, and her lyrical interpretations leaves me very cold. But I still give her a chance with every new album she comes up with, to no success for me.

I feel the same with her new album ‘Warm & Cozy,’ which for me is anything but. Backed by Stuart Elster, to me her singing is colder than over. What’s worse, I think she has turned even pitchier, and the way she interprets lyrics to me a big loss.

Case in point: there should be a tinge of sadness in ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,’ but her version is of tone-deaf jubilance. Is she being improvisational, or she just does not respect the lyric? After that, I just got so bored with the rest fo the album. I felt wasted time.

Sing Act (Music Thoughts: At Last, Mariah Bonner)

When I first finished listening to Mariah Bonner’s album ‘At Last,’ the first thought that came to my mind is that it is interesting. It did not bore me, for sure. I can’t really tell if I really liked it. She has a high thinnish voice – and I thought at times it was pitchy – but it definitely is full of character. I bet she is an actress, I told myself, and sure enough, when I checked her website, she has some acting credits. (That will also explain her gorgeous album photographs) Her album is a mixture of standards English and French and I feel like the songs were carefully chosen, and reflects her personality.

I felt like she sang and acted most of the songs. The heartbreak of ‘Ne Me Quittes Pas’ is there for all of us to feel, for example. And in ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ she shows her rhythmic side. As I said, this album will make you pay attention, but is it good?

Insects and Jazz (Music Thoughts: I Could Be That Guy, Decyo McDuffie)

According top his bio, Decyo McDuffie is a college student studying Entomology & Nematology. He wants to do this: “working with research that prevents insect vectors from spreading disease and disease pathogen.’ On the side, McDuffie is a jazz singer, who sings standards.

I was attracted to his album by the title track:’I Could Be That Guy’ is from the musical Sister Act, which I think has a very good score. And you would think that his style skews more theater, and in that track, it does. But on the rest of the album, I can see why he wants to be labeled as a jazz singer. He has good improvisational skills. For example, he has a very good multi-tempo version of ‘All the Way’ that is quite unique.

But I wonder if he also has theater roots – his ‘Cabaret’ is very theatrical and his ‘Everytime We Say Goodbye’ very purposeful. He is also still malleable – I bet his interpretations will evolve.

Quarantine Christmas Soundtrack (Music Thoughts: Comfort & Joy, Liz Callaway)

A new album by Liz Callaway is always a cause for celebration, and much more so if it is a Christmas album, her first one (though she released an EP a couple of years) This is also a duets album, with Peter Caro on guitar, and I can’t think of a voice more suited with a guitar than Liz’s.

And the songs are marvel, and in these solitary complicated times we are living in, much appreciated. You can hear the ache and tenderness in the season in all these tracks – a very hopeful ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is much too welcome. When she sings ‘We’re apart, that’s true,’ from ‘Merry Christmas Darling, for example,’ the pain is almost unbearable.

And I think she has found herself a new signature tune (much like she kind of owns ‘Meadwlark’ now) with Dolly Parton’s ‘Hard Candy Christmas.’ I have seen her sing this version everywhere, and I haven;t gotten tired of it, and doubt if I will. The whole album is contemplative and perfect for your Christmas quarantine.

Maybe The Luna (Music Thoughts: Duocracy, Clara Luna & Albert Vila)

It’s always a treat to discover new singers and Clara Luna is new to me. She is based in Barcelona and her new album, ‘Duocracy’ has her singing with Albert Vila, who is a guitarist. This is a duets album, and they blend well together. She has a great eclectic repertoire, from ‘Round Midnight’ to ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ to ‘You Oughta Know.’ I feel like she chooses songs that have meaning to her, and it shows in her interpretation if these songs. This is a very pleasant listen, though the album feels like one big mood at times.

Stacey Snowflake (Music Thoughts: Christmas In the Rockies, Stacey Kent)

I have always loved Stacey Kent. She sounds like a modern jazz singer with old-fashioned sensibilities. I remember when I used to go to London, I would hunt for her discs because (then) they were not available in the States yet. So I was doubly excited to find she recorded Christmas music, an EP called ‘Christmas In the Rockies.’ I mean it’s just four tracks, but they are a fantastic four.

She sings four classics: ‘Sleigh Ride,’ “Christmastime is Here,’ ‘Winter Wonderland,’ and ‘The Christmas Song.’ She doesn’t break the mold on the songs, they have classic arrangements and she sings them well with her sweet and slightly salty voice.

I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been much vocal jazz holiday albums of late, so this is a welcome addition. Stream it before the season ends.

A Guitar Heavy Holiday (Music Thoughts: Farewell December, Matt Nathanson)

I don’t normally listen to the kind of music Matt Nathan son sings – he is. singer songwriter, basically a guy with a guitar. But I don’t necessarily dislike his particular style. But I was intrigued that he has a track here that features the San Francisco Gay Man’s Chorus, and I thought that was an unlikely and interesting combination, so I went ahead and listened to the rest of the album.

And yes, this was a very pleasant listen, and I have to be honest, I don’t know if I will ever listen to this thing again. The track with the chorus, ‘Christmastime Is Here’ is very nice, and there are other tracks that appealed to me: his version of ‘Mamacita,’ and his cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River.’

But the rest just went over my head, if I have to be honest. His guitar heavy tracks like ‘Snow’ and ‘Father Christmas’ just did not appeal to me, and one track, ‘Granda Got Run Over’ just flat-out grated on me. But I am sure those tracks will have fans of their own.

Delta Dawned (Music Thoughts: Only Santa Knoes, Delta Goodrem)

I know Delta Goodrem is very popular in her native Australia, but I still don’t know here that much. I have listened to a lot of her recordings, but nothing has stuck over the years. I know I wrote about her Olivia Newton John tribute album a while back. but for the life of me don’t remember much about it – I am not even sure if I did like it.

Sad to say, I still feel that way about her after listening to her new Holiday album ‘Only Santa Knows.’ Nothing is still sticking to me. I can’t zone in on her voice – I mean, it’s very good technically, but it just doesn’t hit me in my heart.

For me, I just felt like she went through the motions here, and don’t remember any of the songs even after listening to them. Yes, it is anothjer case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ Sorry Delta.

At This Time (Music Thoughts: This Time of Year, Maxine Linehan)

Maxine Linehan grew up in Ireland so she has fond memories of Christmasses in her youth, so it makes sense she would do a Christmas album. To be honest, I had not heard of her before, although her output includes shows and tributes to both Petula Clark and Barbra Streisand. Her live shows have garnered great reviews.

This Holiday album has twelve tracks, and there are only five traditional Holiday songs. The rest are her own compositions, including the title track which she is promoting. I wish I could say that the original songs are memorable. I have played the album twice now and nothing has stuck.

And since she lives in Southern Vermont, she includes a cover of ‘Moonlight in Vermont.; It’s nice, but kind of out of place here. While she does well eniugh with teh Silent Nights and Happy Christmasses, the mood is all over the place for me. I have extracted her ‘The Perfect Year’ for one of my Holiday playlist but i don’t know rally if I will listen to the other tracks again.