Just wanted to share a recent review of Albumette with my wonderful friends and fans. Here it is:
|Artist: Deborah E
Album Title: Albumette
Review by Nick DeRiso
Deborah E brings a tough-minded attitude to Albumette, but don’t equate this jumping, jazzy five-song EP with your typical tell-off. Instead, she blends a spicy pair of originals with two tried-and-true ballads before sailing off into a pleasant reverie.
A sultry take on Donny Burke and Paul Francis Webster’s “Black Coffee” opens Albumette, with Deborah exhaling the familiar lines from a lonely lover like a long-awaited smoke. It’s an ambitious choice, considering the song has been covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to k.d. lang to the Pointer Sisters. But, with the help of her sinewy backing group and a gentle caress of the lyric, Deborah pulls it off. This talented group can swing through the chorus, propelled by a bawdy turn by Heinrich, only to slow all the way down for a late-night saloon sway.
Deborah is at her take-no-guff best on “Just Say When,” co-written by guitarist Denny Martin, Jaimee Paul and Alan O’Day. As her quippy rhythm section heats up to a rumbling boil, “Stop wasting that big old moon; wake up and smell the perfume!,” Deborah wails, while saxophonist John Heinrich hits a fat note. “Just say when, if you want to be more than friends.” Haughty and direct, she struts alongside drummer William Ellis, upright bassist Dow Tomlin and Hammond B3 player Gene Rabbai like Aimee Mann working a neon-lit Bourbon Street dive. Similarly, Deborah pushes back, and hard, on Martin and Paul’s “Only Temporary.” This ribald, rocking blues cut begins by channeling a downtrodden worker’s lament. “Want to tell him to stick this job where the sun don’t shine,” Deborah growls. Same goes for her good-for-nothing man, who spends more time on the couch watching Dr. Phil than he does trying to secure a new paycheck. When her dog bites the neighbor, it’s almost more than Deborah’s character can bear. “Seems like there’s nothing left to lose,” she admits, before rousing herself from the doldrums. “There’s ain’t no need to worry,” Deborah finally concludes, as Heinrich and Rabbai craft a trembling tower of soul behind her. “Sometimes this life can get a little bit scary, but it’s only temporary.”
That fierce confidence is mirrored in her choice of cover tunes, as Deborah takes on “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” If anything, this Charles Fox-Norman Gimble composition is more familiar. After all, it’s been both a chart-topping pop song in 1974 for Roberta Flack and then a Grammy-award winning hit for the Fugees in 1996. Deborah’s update fits somewhere in between, boasting a spritely swinging smooth-jazz sheen. Coupled with a more openly hopeful approach to the vocal, the tune is transformed from its once-expected deep dark despair into a moment of almost ethereal longing.
A similar romanticism permeates Deborah’s album closer, the happily content “Perfectly Wonderful World,” also written by Martin and Paul. “The moonlight lights a path on the sea … a warm breeze whispers my dreams,” Deborah sings, as Rabbai offers a series of meditative asides on the piano that take the listener out into the current’s soothing rhythms. Whatever troubles have come before, whatever heartache, disappear like the ebbing tide. It is, in its own way, the perfect conclusion. For all of her flinty determination, there is more to Deborah E than a strong voice and a strong will. Her ability, and her willingness, to reveal these eggshell vulnerabilities we all carry is what propels Albumette into new emotional places. Balancing the two might be more difficult across a long-playing release. But for now, in this five-song context, Deborah E has it perfectly in sync.
Review by Nick DeRiso