TRACY HAMLIN – Seasons
(US DMH CD, 2005)
1. Ain't No Sunshine 2. Anything For You 3. Heartbreaking Feeling 4. Sundown 5. Prelude to Home
6. A Place Called Home 7. Seasons 8. Been There, Done That 9. Again 10. Because I Am Special
11. Still I Rise
Pieces of a Dream has introduced Tracy Hamlin's angelic voice on their
last two albums, and now it's time for Tracy's debut solo set, entitled Seasons.
Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with jazz or smooth-jazz, despite the fact that
several Pieces of a Dream members, Najee and other well-known jazz musicians are
featured in the background. Instead, producer John Stoddart brings a distinct
inspirational soul flavour on the album, and some tracks also have a hint of
folk overtones. Anyway, Tracy gets a chance to shine over the airy backings,
and she really sings superbly throughout the album.
The album opens with a respectable cover of Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine,
but I prefer the rootsy soul ballad Heartbreaking Feeling, which sounds like
a classic Aretha Franklin tune from the 60s. Another real highlight is the
bright and beautiful title track Seasons, on which James Lloyd (of Pieces
of a Dream) plays the stylish piano backing, and the rhythm has slight Latin
influences. A timeless, classy ballad.
Najee is the featured flautist on Sundown, and his flute playing and
Stan Cooper's guitar add some unique colour on this beautiful fingersnapper.
I also enjoy the serene, spiritual atmosphere on the inspirational ballads
A Place Called Home and Still I Rise. Even though the whole CD does
not contain anything as mindblowing as Tracy's divine version of
My Funny Valentine (on Pieces of a Dream's 2002 CD Love's Silhouette),
the album is highly recommended to anyone who admires Tracy's truly unique,
exciting soprano vocalising.
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express, editor