Cassandra Wilson's 'Another Country' refreshingly upbeat
New CDs released this week include Cassandra Wilson's excellent and surprisingly upbeat "Another Country"; Joe Jackson's "The Duke," Linkin Park's "Living Things" and The Flaming Lips' "The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends."
Cassandra Wilson, 'Another Country' (Entertainment One)
I've been waiting a long time for a new Cassandra Wilson album I could really love, and this is it. Bye-bye woozy-bluesy alto wallowing around in her own longueur; hello to a stepped-up pace in a brighter room and a crisper attitude. The key here seems to be producer Fabrizio Sotti (who worked with Wilson on "Glamoured"), who parks Wilson's exquisitely expressive voice atop a bed of plangent acoustic guitar — traces of flamenco and bossa — slaloming electric guitar, reedy accordion and tapping bongos. Wilson even sings the bel canto classic "O Sole Mio" — in Italian — and on the chipper charmer "Almost Twelve," soars above her usual sultry alto into soprano territory.
"Passion" feels urgent in a way Wilson often doesn't — "Close your eyes, hear the beat ... you can feel the heat" (yes, I can) — with a rolling guitar vamp driving the proceedings. "When Will I See You Again" sounds like she actually cares, and "Another Country" — "I saw another country in your eyes" — well, you get the idea. Who knows what sparked all this passion, but a big grazie to whatever (or whomever) it was! And while the closing African chorus on "Olomuroro" is a bit of a cliché these days, the spirit of love and celebration coursing through the veins of this album is welcome, indeed.
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times jazz critic
Other new releases
Joe Jackson, "The Duke" (Razor & Tie)
Linkin Park, "Living Things" (Warner Bros.)
The Flaming Lips, "The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends" (Warner Bros.)