Cassandra Wilson's latest Blue Note release is a stylistic and interpretive mixed bag. On the one hand, we get some unusual interpretations of classic jazz, country, and rock tunes, some of which I had a hard time warming up to. On the other hand, we get some very good original compositions and arrangements from Cassandra Wilson herself, with some great playing from her accompanists.
Wilson's interpretation of Hank Williams' I'm So Lonely I Could Cry is strangely upbeat and doesn't have the appropriate sense of brooding sorrow evoked by Margo Timmins and The Cowboy Junkies' version on The Trinity Session. Neil Young's Harvest Moon gets somewhat better treatment, but this time the slow tempo and dreamy soundscape aren't quite what I think Young intended. I certainly can't fault Wilson's versions of U2's Love Is Blindness and Son House's Death Letter. Both are very well done, with Love Is Blindness getting a terrific arrangement by guitarist Brandon Ross.
Cassandra Wilson's own compositions prove to be some of the strongest material here, the lovely A Little Warm Death and the funky Memphis, with its Steely Dan'esque backing, taking top honours in my books. The quirky, but enjoyable, Find Him also found quite a bit of play in my transport of late, as did the beautifully melodic Until. Wilson is a very capable composer and she may do well to leave covers of other artist's material to those less-capable.
While some of the musical selections on New Moon Daughter aren't to my liking, I have no such complaints about the discs production or sound quality. Production values are top-notch, credit going to Craig Street, who also produced Holly Cole's Temptation. The recording is exceptional in every respect, and is certainly one of the best pop/jazz recordings I've heard yet - warm, full-bodied, and smooth, with realistic guitar transients and no digital glare or brightness. No SPARS code is given, but my guess is it's an analogue recording (I'm sure I'll hear about it if I'm wrong!)
Because of its excellent sonics and production values, New
Moon Daughter is undoubtedly destined to become an audiophile
favorite. Musically, it may or may not be your cup of tea. Give
it a listen at your local record retailer and decide for yourself.
-- Steve LaMer