Blue Light

Blue Light

5.0 1
by Jude Johnstone
An artist does not have to be jazz-oriented to benefit from jazz artistically. That has certainly been the case with Joni Mitchell; it has also been true of Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, Norah Jones, the Doors,


An artist does not have to be jazz-oriented to benefit from jazz artistically. That has certainly been the case with Joni Mitchell; it has also been true of Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, Norah Jones, the Doors, Sting and many others who made their mark in rock, pop or R&B but enriched their work by having a jazz influence. And on Blue Light, jazz is an attractive ingredient for singer/songwriter Jude Johnstone even though it is not the CD's main ingredient. Evaluating this 2007 release by straight-ahead jazz standards would be unfair because that isn't where Johnstone is coming from; Blue Light is essentially a pop
ock-adult alternative album, but it is a pop
ock-adult alternative album that is definitely mindful of jazz and torch singing. Even though Johnstone (who wrote or co-wrote all of the songs) has more in common with Rickie Lee Jones stylistically than she does with Sheila Jordan or Abbey Lincoln, there is no overlooking the amount of jazzy torchiness that she brings to originals like "Paper Doll" (not to be confused with the song that the Mills Brothers recorded in 1942), "New York Morning" and "Losin' Hand." Blue Light is dominated by new material, but the exception to that rule is the melancholy bonus track "Over and Done" (which was recorded back in 1983). Hearing "Over and Done" alongside the other songs, one can hear that Johnstone's voice hasn't changed much in 24 years; the Johnstone of 2007 has a nasal vocal style much like the Johnstone of 1983. It's a voice that takes some getting used to, but it's also a voice that can easily grow on the listener, especially considering the consistently high quality of her writing on Blue Light.

Product Details

Release Date:
Bojak Records


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jude Johnstone   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals,Vibes
Vince Mendoza   Strings
Chuck Domanico   Standup Bass
Danny Frankel   Percussion,Bongos,Drums,Tambourine,Shaker
Mark Hatch   Muted Trumpet
Tim Hosman   Strings
Freddy Koella   Acoustic Guitar
Kathleen Lenski   Violin
David Piltch   Standup Bass
Paul Severtson   Violin,Viola
Brynn Albanese   Violin
Marc Macisso   Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Matt Margucci   Trumpet,Muted Trumpet
Michael Nowak   Viola
Kathleen Lenksi   Trumpet
David Pitch   Upright Bass
Jeanne Shumway   Cello

Technical Credits

Ken Allardyce   Engineer
Charles Duncan   Engineer
Tim Hosman   String Arrangements
Jude Johnstone   Composer,Producer,Graphic Design
Henry Lewy   Engineer
Steve Crimmel   Engineer

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Blue Light 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Jude's music since I first heard her perform live several years ago. I'm still a fan because she consistently releases music that connects with me both emotionally and sonically. That happens so rarely with me that I am always anxious to hear what new material Jude has waiting in the wings. Given my love of Jude's songwriting and my ever-growing appreciation for music of the Golden Era, I was extremely "jazzed" to hear that Jude was going to be releasing this CD of self-penned torch and jazz-influenced music. I knew I was in for a treat, and Jude did not disappoint. Fans of Jude's two previous releases will undoubtedly enjoy this CD as well because of the similarities between it and her previous work. The subject matter and melancholy tone of her earlier lyrics appear again throughout this CD as well as her heavy use of piano and string arrangements. But for all of its similarities to Jude's previous work, this CD has just enough new elements to keep a faithful listener intrigued. These "new" elements are, namely, a "jazzier" and "blusier" tone to the tracks. While these elements are definitely at the forefront of the songs' arrangements, it would be misleading to say that this CD is a full-on jazz CD complete with long, improvised musical solos and scatting. "Anyone expecting to hear those elements will be disappointed--or relieved--depending on one's musical leanings." Instead, Blue Light is more of a tasteful homage to a musical style that Jude grew up listening to and still greatly reveres. The lyrics on Blue Light deal with the same topics and emotions that are explored on Jude's previous efforts and are as strong and effective as ever. A line from the stunning track, "Paper Doll," describes the overarching tone and theme of the CD's: "So here's a sad song/ You'll need one after all." While such lyrics pack an obvious melancholy punch, Jude's lyrics never come across as melodramatic. While the majority of the tracks deal with the reckoning of emotional scars left in the wake of romances gone awry, one standout track, the elegant and almost prayerful "New York Morning," seems to be more of a love song to the Empire State. One of the track's best lyrics: "Somebody told me/ That it's all in the stars/And this flesh and bone is/ Really not what we are," is especially poignant in light of the upcoming anniversary of the September 11th attacks on New York. The CD ends with a "goodbye" trifecta---three songs which chronicle relationships "romantic or otherwise" that have come to an end. "Quittin' Time"--perhaps my personal favorite on this CD--contains some of the most gut-wrenching lyrics to have ever come from Jude's pen: "I knew someday you'd leave/ The moment that you wanted to," and the image-rich, "I knew that love would lose/ That one day you would say goodbye/ And vanish like the sun/ Into a Winter sky." On "Walk Away," Jude sings, "I know you don't love me/ I know you never will," accompanied by a deceptively peppy musical arrangement. Rounding out the trifecta is the bonus track, "Over and Done," which was written and recorded by Jude in 1983 and was the inspiration for the making of this album. With the 12 tracks on Blue Light, Jude has managed to craft a top-notch CD for true music lovers. There is something on this CD for everyone---new fans and old. While new listeners will have their curiosities piqued to hear Jude's previous recordings, old fans--like myself--will have their curiosities piqued to hear what musical roads Jude will take us down next. I, for one, look forward to