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CD Review: Twain

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Rebecca Martin, Twain, 2013, Sunnyside Records.
  • Rebecca Martin, Twain, 2013, Sunnyside Records.

Kingston jazz vocalist and guitarist Rebecca Martin was recently lauded by the New York Times and NPR for Twain, her sixth release, which is a more sober, delicate departure from some of her earlier work. Twain shows more of Martin's introspective side, which she attributes to her growing appreciation for personal space over the years (though the album title refers to the old English word meaning two). Once again, she collaborates with her husband, masterly jazz bassist Larry Grenadier; the album also features sporadic appearances by drummer Dan Rieser and keyboardist Pete Rende on 12 original tracks and one classic cover.

Martin admits to losing her speaking voice several years ago, and the recovery required months of silence. Her vocals are different these days—more raspy, confident, and authentic. The opening track, "To Up and Go," introduces this new, eloquent voice alongside beautifully expressive finger-picked acoustic guitar. Following "Beyond the Hillside" and its alluring breeziness is a rendition of Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" that finds her accompanied only by Grenadier's smoky, plucky bass. The pace picks up on tracks like "On a Rooftop," but only just a bit. It's mostly in melancholy tracks such as "In the Early Winter Trees," with its tender, reflective poetry, where the true depth of her emotion manifests. A digital booklet embedded in the disc makes Twain all the more precious. Martin will be performing in the Netherlands, Japan, and California this summer but will return to New York this fall for several dates. Sunnysiderecords.com.

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