Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Scottish chanteuse Burns and her famous guitarist dad-in-law Martin Taylor's collection of standards and classic pop hits is inspired by the 70s and 80s partnership of Ella Fitzgerald and guitarist Joe Pass - a tough challenge, since even those two had trouble excising the odd yawn from such a low-key venture. Burns' career has been a slow build, but even if 21st-century music isn't exactly crying out for another standards singer, the Krall/Stacey Kent marketplace might well have room for such a startlingly classy exponent of the art.
Taylor's bursts of fizzing double-time out of the chunky swing feel under He's a Tramp certainly banishes any low-lights languor, and on such much-travelled classics as Sophisticated Lady, Burns (an embellisher rather than full-on improviser) confirms her pedigree with the lightest of touches - imperceptibly hurrying a word here, turning another into a soft hoot, stretching a sound into a whispered glissando. Her poignant ballad on the brother who died in the Falklands War won't leave a dry eye in the house, and a slow account of Stevie Wonder's If It's Magic eerily catches Stevie's soulful tremor without turning up the volume a notch." -AllAboutJazz
Personnel: Alison Burns (vocals); Martin Taylor (guitar).
Audio Mixer: Tony Platt.
Recording information: Castlesound Studios, Pencaitland, Scotland (03/2008).
Photographer: Stephen Kearney.
Alison Burns' debut CD on guitarist Martin Taylor's P3 Music label proved to be a striking session for the vocalist, an expressive alto who seemed to find new routes to songs of widely different styles. 1 AM is the brilliant follow-up album, though this time it is just Burns and Taylor performing 14 superb duets. Unlike many better-known vocalists, Burns builds upon the strengths of each piece without trying to totally discard the melody and show off, while Taylor is the consummate partner, providing lush accompaniment and intricate fills between lines without intruding upon the singer. While there are rewarding interpretations of standards like the sensitive "Sophisticated Lady" and a warm "How Long Has This Been Going On," it is Burns' exploration of forgotten gems and newer pop songs that leaves the most lasting impressions. The playful, lighthearted rendition of Peggy Lee's "Here's a Tramp," the loping, bluesy setting of Hub Atwood's "No One Ever Tells You," and the spacious, heartfelt performance of Stevie Wonder's "If It's Magic" are all stunning. An added bonus is the beautiful original ballad "True," penned by Burns and Taylor. Alison Burns is married to James Taylor, the executive producer and the guitarist's son, so hopefully this enjoyable family gathering in the studio will become a regular part of their lives, as well as those of jazz fans. ~ Ken Dryden
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