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Posted October 1, 2010
For their fourth long-player, this jazz and western swing trio has penned their largest yet helping of originals. The band¿s stripped-down mix of fiddle, guitar and bass, augmented only by Joe Kerr¿s piano, is a sly mix of hot licks and cool vocals, equally hill-driven by the twang of Texas roadhouses as the gypsy string jazz of Reinhardt and Grappelli. ¶ Producer Gurf Morlix continues the direction taken by Lloyd Maines on the band¿s previous album, focussing on studio tracking and delivering a polished, constructed album. It¿s not without swing (Jake Erwin¿s propulsive upright bass makes sure of that), but the finish is that of a studio album, rather than the live stage, and the lack of guest players creates a much more intimate sound than the band has previously laid down on wax. ¶ The original songs give violinist Elana Fremerman and guitarist Whit Smith a chance to coin their own vocals. Smith often employs a somnambulistic style that finely matches tales of insomnia ("Sleep") and shady film noir circumstance ("It Stops With me"). Fremerman tries out several different styles, including the sort of overdubbed close-harmonies Les Paul constructed around Mary Ford ("Forget-Me-Nots," with Smith adding fluid instrumental embroidery), and winsome ballads like "Home." ¶ The band shows itself to be increasingly immersed in their chosen style, rather than merely imitative of it. Covers of traditional gypsy and fiddle tunes ("Fuli Tschai" and "Cherokee Shuffle," respectively), minstrel songs ("Pray for the Lights to Go Out"), Tin Pan Alley (Rodgers & Hart¿s "You Took Advantage of Me") and Aerosmith¿s "Chip Away the Stone" all mingle effortlessly with the originals. ¶ The focus on the band¿s three players and the extra time spent in the studio (in which they are obviously more comfortable than ever) has resulted in the most refined and focussed album of Hot Club¿s career. One can just imagine these tunes spinning from the speaker of your family¿s tube radio.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.