by Alyssa Graham


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It seems odd that this soothing and compelling, dreamy-voiced artist is billed as a singer/songwriter, since she didn't actually contribute to the composing of any of the 11 sumptuous tracks here. But that's just a technicality, and no matter at all, since Alyssa Graham conveys powerful emotions and silky charm over arrangements of originals and covers that range from moody and haunting Latin surrealism ("Echo") to sparse, gently percussive folk (Paul Simon's "America"), crisp and stylish pop ("My Love"), and hypnotic lounge jazz ("Pictures of You" and the irresistibly lovelorn "Butterflies"). Produced by Jon Cowherd (Lizz Wright, the Brian Blade Fellowship), Echo would be a compelling (if mostly low-key) listen even if it were just a gathering of random songs. But the concept helps illuminate some of the heartfelt lyrics: it's a musical travelogue that traces the arc of a modern-day love affair via jazz, pop, and even Brazilian rhythms. It was inspired by Graham's travels throughout Brazil, India, Africa, and Europe, and the object of her affection is her longtime love (and prominent lyricist and guitarist here), Douglas Graham. It covers a lot of emotional and geographic distance and offers a few clever surprises along the way, such as changing "Kathy" to "Doug" when she's longing on "America." While she closes the set with a graceful acoustic guitar-vocal twist on the standard "Once Upon a Summertime," the story behind the album's other standard-era tune (the haunting "Involved Again") somehow makes the second song even more compelling. Composer Jack Reardon wrote it originally for Billie Holiday, who was set to record it on her next album when she died. Reardon was so saddened by the loss that he shelved the song for 50 years until he heard Graham's debut, What Love Is, which prompted him to contact her and offer her the song. Her rendition is exquisite and makes one realize, thankfully, that the spirit of innovative legendary vocalists like Lady Day is alive and well in new artists like Alyssa Graham. Echo may take a few listens to penetrate the listener's heart, but once it's there, it resounds for a long time.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/29/2008
Label: Sunnyside
UPC: 0016728410328
catalogNumber: 4103

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Alyssa Graham   Primary Artist,Vocals
Jeff Haynes   Percussion
Romero Lubambo   Guitar,Vocals
Laura Seaton   Violin
Sachi Patitucci   Cello
Jon Cowherd   Organ,Piano,French Horn,Vocals
Doug Weiss   Bass,Bass Guitar
Grégoire Maret   Harmonica
Elizabeth Lim Dutton   Violin
Lawrence Dutton   Viola
Obed Calvaire   Drums
Douglas Graham   Guitar

Technical Credits

Jon Cowherd   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Eric Elterman   Engineer
Douglas Graham   Composer,Engineer,Art Direction

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