This delightful singer started out in Pittsburgh, hearing music at home, in church and at school. She sang in groups while attending Yale University, and after completing her education began her singing career while living in Paris. She is now especially well known in New York, where she is resident.
Allen’s singing voice is gentle with a very slight hint of attractive throatiness. Always musical, her phrasing and timing are excellent, she has a relaxed sense of swing and she delivers lyrics with understanding and intensity. Her songs here are split between originals and well known, although mostly not overdone, standards. The very familiar songs, “Skylark” and “Autumn Leaves” for example, are freshened by their melodic and rhythmic treatment. The second of these is a particularly pleasing track, with Allen singing both lyrics (the familiar by Johnny Mercer and Jacques Prevert’s French original). On this track, with only bass accompaniment, Allen’s interpretative skill is exceptional. Bassist Moutin is very good throughout, his solos always inventive. Pianist Test and drummer Abadey are also excellent accompanists, the former also providing well-taken solos.
Of the five originals, four have words and music by Allen, one her words with music by Moutin. Among these songs is “Shooting Star”, which is a contemporary love song; “Touch the Sun”, a vivid lyrical depiction of the vibrancy of nature; and “Democracy How”, an intense statement of life as it is now endured by many.
This is Allen’s fifth album and I am sorry to have missed those that came before. The lyrics to all the originals are included as is a brief note by Travis Rogers Jr. Very warmly recommended.
(1) Skylark; Shooting Star; Invitation; In My Web; Democracy How (Harmony and Dissonance); Touch the Sun; (3) Fotografia; (1) Night Owl; (3) Save Your Love for Me; (2) Autumn Leaves/Les Feuilles Mortes; (3) Midnight Sun (55.42)
(1) Allen (v); Billy Test (p); François Moutin (b); Kush Abadey (d). 3 &4 December 2017 and 2 April 2018. NYC.
(2) as (1) Test, Abadey out.
(3) as (1) Abadey out.
Azuline Music, no number