CD review

Carmen Lundy – “Modern Ancestors”

Carmen Lundy – Modern Ancestors
(Afrasia AFP 13823. CD Review by Peter Jones)

Carmen Lundy treads her own path. Not for her the water-treading predictability of so many jazz singers, forever recycling the songs of 80 years ago. She writes her own richly textured material, and it doesn’t fit neatly into the swing/ballad/latin straitjacket. Nor does she stick with a tried and tested band: she’s kept it fresh by replacing all the musicians who played on her previous outing (the classy Code Noir, from 2017). Modern Ancestors features two young musicians of exceptional talent – Andrew Renfroe on guitar and Julius Rodriguez on piano. Lundy is also ably supported by brother Curtis Lundy and Kenny Davis, who share bass duties, plus Terreon Gully and Kassa Overall doing likewise on drums, plus Mayra Casales on percussion. Carmen herself chips in on guitar, percussion, synthesizer and Fender Rhodes, as well as providing her own backing vocals, and co-producing the album, and doing the sleeve artwork.

The vibe this time is a little mellower than the distinctly urban Code Noir – late night, let’s say. The album’s atmosphere is largely created by Julius Rodriguez’s sweet, rippling piano (listen to him on Flowers and Candles or the final track Still) and Andrew Renfroe’s tasty, Steely Dan-like guitar fills. Although she can get feisty when she wants to, as on the extended Eye of the Storm, Lundy’s default singing voice is relaxed and sophisticated, and covers a massive range, as well as a variety of styles: on Meant for Each Other, for example, she sounds like a black Joni Mitchell. And on Jazz on TV she adds her own smooth backing vocals to the refrain. Eye of the Storm – as tempestuous as it sounds – is followed, appropriately by Clear Blue Skies, with puttering drums from Kassa Overall and gentle, latin-style bass from Kenny Davis.

Just like its predecessor, this album – Carmen Lundy’s 15th – has become a fixture on my CD player: I just love her hip, expressive voice and slick, idiosyncratic, contemporary songwriting. She’s been around for quite a while, but the word “veteran” does not in any way describe who she is or what she does.

LINK: Video of A Time for Peace 

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