CD Review: Liane Carroll – Ballads

Liane Carroll – Ballads 
(Quiet Money Recordings QMR0002CD. CD review by Chris Parker)

From the hushed reverence of its opening track, ‘Here’s to Life’, to the rueful melancholy of its closer, the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant classic ‘Raining in My Heart’, Liane Carroll’s Ballads is so deeply felt, so intensely personal, that all assumptions that previous versions – whether by (as with these two), Shirley Horn or Buddy Holly respectively, or even Frank Sinatra (‘Only the Lonely’) and (‘You’ve Changed’) Billie Holiday – would forever remain ‘definitive’ are simply blown away.

For Carroll does not merely interpret these songs, she inhabits them, intimately confiding in her listeners, so that everything from Todd Rundgren’s ‘Pretending to Care’ and Carole King’s ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ to more conventional jazz standards (‘Mad About the Boy’, ‘My One and Only Love’) is imbued with unaffectedly sincere, heartfelt emotion.

Entirely eschewing the vocal pyrotechnics that disfigure so much contemporary balladry, Carroll’s singing wrings the heart in a manner achieved by a precious few, and with beautifully judged instrumental contributions from the likes of Gwilym Simcock, Julian Siegel and Kirk Whalum, not to mention the supremely tasteful string arrangements of Chris Walden, this is a gem of an album that should, if there is any justice in the world, become an instant classic.


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