Graham Reid | | 1 min read
To some small extent local listeners might have been down this narrow path previously with Matthew Bannister (as One Man Bannister) setting of some Emily Dickinson poems to music on his album The Saddest Noise.
Bannister's project was a folk/pop album taking Dickinson's words into his songs, this album by Berlin-raised jazz singer Şahin (of Turkish parents) is a much more sophisticated conception because – with six-piece band behind her – she pulls the poet's words into her orbit but also writes her own lyrics to create a kind of dialogue across a century and a half.
It is ambitious but like Bannister she taps into the solitary and often lonely nature of Dickson's world and work.
Seemingly also inspired by Joni Mitchell's poetic lyrics which bend around melodies and rhythmic structure (and perhaps a little of Rickie Lee Jones' languid delivery), Şahin creates an intimate song cycle with the band sometimes settling on discreet repeated phrases as on Have You Got A Brook In Your Little Heart (we capitalise the poem/song titles, Dickinson was idiosyncratic in this regard!) which the singer can sit atop and lean out from.
Sometimes there is a clear jazz-pop ethic at work (the Latin-tinged Let Go) or a nudge towards pop-fusion (There's a Certain Slant of Light) but the standouts are Hope Is A Thing With Feathers and Tie the Strings To My Life where she and the band weave two songs of six and a half minutes into engrossing and unhurried magic.
One for those who appreciate contemporary jazz vocals, and you needn't know anything much about Dickinson. Although it helps, of course.
You can hear this album at Spotify here