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Atmospheric and heart-rending

Alison Ruble - This Is A Bird

(Origin Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 8, 2008
Alsion Ruble

Review by Brad Walseth

A truly lovely album from a singer with a beautiful voice, Ruble covers choice tunes from Cole Porter ("So In Love"), Rogers and Hammerstein ("We Kiss in the Shadows," "This Nearly Was Mine"), Styne and Cahn ("It's Magic"), Bacharach and David ("Always Something There to Remind Me") and James Taylor ("Something in the Way She Moves") and infuses them with a new and original feel.

John McLean provides exceptional guitar work as always here: he is becoming a guitarist of choice for female singers here in Chicago; while Jo Ann Daughtery is wonderful on the acoustic piano as well, bringing a sensitive touch on the keys. Geraldo de Oliveira adds tasteful percussion, while bassist Larry Kohut and drummer Tim Davis are well known in town as being outstanding accompanists and they shine here in their support. Kohut's enjoyable acoustic bass interplay with Ruble's voice on "If I Had You" is a highlight. Meanwhile, Jim Gailloreto is featured on soprano sax and alto flute. Clearly, Ms. Ruble is not only a great singer, but an excellent judge of bandmates.

Ruble's voice is in a lower register and silky smooth and fits comfortably with the instrumental arrangements. Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer's "Skylark" is given a fabulous, loving treatment that remains with the listener. McLean's expressive guitar, Gailloreto's skylark flight on his flute, Kohut and Davis in tandem: this is a picture perfect version. But I also love the way they turn Cole Porter into a moody and powerful rumination on bittersweet love. And their take on Bacharach is mesmerizing.

This isn't all though. The rest of the album is a collection of atmospheric meditations graced by Ruble's heart-rending vocals and delivered by a group of stellar musicians committed to presenting the songs the right way. Mostly quiet and contemplative music for an introspective mood, sung by a Chicago songbird.

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