Lucia Cadotsch: Aki 

Swiss vocalist, appearing with Kit Downes, reminds of Nina Simone - not sonically, but in serving the song and avoiding showy virtuosity

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Lucia Cadotsch’s singing parallels that of the mature Nina Simone – not that they sound alike, but both offer an honest, eye-to-eye conversation. Their intelligent, disciplined approach serves the song rather than pandering to an audience. Both avoid showy virtuosity and over-singing, which soon becomes tiring. Instead, their close readings stand up to repeated listens, revealing new depths in the songs.

There’s some overlap in their repertoire: Cadotsch recorded half a dozen songs from the Simone songbook with another of her bands, Speak Low. Yet while Simone was one of the best interpreters of Dylan and Cohen, for instance, the Berlin-based Cadotsch’s taste runs more to Eno, Berio and Brecht/Weill, whose Ballad Of The Drowned Girl she reprises here. She recorded it three years ago with Speak Low, which also includes Downes.

Though the song is gruesome, this version is sprightlier than the Speak Low version, which featured an extended solo by Downes on Hammond organ. He plays the same instrument here on O One, in a cool, restrained style that suits Cadotsch’s vocals better than its traditional soul-jazz sound.

The Drowned Girl is the only non-original here. After two albums of standards with Speak Low, Cadotsch has turned to original material on Aki and last year’s Lily Of The Nile with LIUN + The Science Fiction Band, featuring her tantalisingly obscure lyrics.

Medusa’s Champagne from that album resurfaces here in a more succinct, acoustic-oriented version, lifted by a fluid guitar solo by Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Curiously there’s no song called Lily Of The Nile on the LIUN album but there is one here, co-written by that group’s saxophonist Wanja Slavin and featuring poignant piano from Downes. Another repeat is Brother II, which she taped last year for a Ukraine benefit album. Starting with an eloquent bass solo, this version is longer and lusher, one of the album’s standouts.

Throughout, Cadotsch sings with her trademark blend of warmth and coolness, floating and languid above this excellent band – so detached, though, that you sometimes wish she would burst through the veil with more passion. 

Discography
I Won’t; Bitter Long Lying Leisure; Brother II; Secedas; No Apology; Medusa’s Champagne; Ballad Of The Drowned Girl; O One; Lily Of The Nile; Naked And Numb (37.09)
Cadotsch (v); Kit Downes (p, org); Phil Donkin (b); James Maddren (d); Kurt Rosenwinkel (g on 2,6). Berlin, 2022.
Heartcore Records HCR21