The latest in a series of superb, self-released albums, Blazing Red finds this Boston-bred singer/songwriter/pianist offering a set of low-lit ballads that ring with a plaintive emotional pull. With keyboards being Heaton's primary focus, comparisons to Tori Amos and Fiona Apple become almost inevitable. But unlike those more famous peers, her expressions of dreams and desire never fall prey to self-pity or helpless circumstance, maintaining instead an upward gaze that focuses instead on optimism and desire. Beautifully beguiling, unhurried, and yet instantly arresting, her soothing sentiments are crafted with a poet's skill and a philosophic contemplation.
Born in Germany and raised in Kenya and South Africa, Jann Klose boasts an international view that easily translates to the aptly titled Reverie, a collection of smooth, sensual ballads and easy-listening acoustic forays. Think Jack Johnson or Dave Matthews without the pretense. "Hold Me Down" provides an irresistible refrain, and "All These Rivers" offers the prerequisite candidate for smooth jazz radio. Still, it's the smooth, simmering delivery of songs like "Mother Said, Father Said," "Give in to This Life," and "Doing Time" that makes this effort so ebullient and engaging.
Mopping Up Karma
Judith Owen's recording career, which stretches back over a dozen years, has never been easy to categorize. A stylist and chanteuse, she's part Carly Simon, part Joni Mitchell, and, on this latest opus, a whole lot Kate Bush. Earlier efforts have found her purveying more of a cabaret style with basic piano accompaniment. But now she's expanded her parameters, adding a smoldering, sensual edge through songs that radiate a sly, seductive desire and a decidedly defiant stance. Consequently, Mopping Up Karma is a brilliant work swept up in both artistry and emotion.
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