Nancy Harrow: The Song Is All

Vocalist Nancy Harrow first got my attention a couple of years ago when I came across a reissue of her 1961 classic Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues. Her sense of fun and swing was infectious,; since then I’ve heard a number of her other albums, and they’ve all been quite impressive. This one is her latest, and while her voice may be a bit more frail after almost 60 years (what a surprise!), her sense of time is still impeccable, her tone is spot on, and her lyric writing for all of these songs give the feel of a full life looking back on the plus and minuses.

Her tone and delivery come off like the courtesan in Zorba the Greek; a woman with a past, still hanging on to her dignity if anyone will take the time to notice. The songs themselves are a mix of jazz, bohemia, cabaret and modern Tin Pan Alley. There is a rotating rhythm team of Chris Ziemba-David Linard/p, Nathan Bell-Dennis Mackrel/dr and Rufus Reid-Alex Claffy/dr along with various reeds and brass making cameo appearances.

There are some intimate chamber moments with strings o “Maya the Bee Medley” and Harrow lets it all out on the heartbreaking “He’s Gone.” More upbeat and optimistic is the fun “ Self-Esteem” and the fun character study of “Putting On Airs.” She shows her ability to booie as she shares the vocals with Britton Smith and Carl Clemmons Hopkins on the juke jointing “Railroad Man.” Closing the album with a pair of duets, her “A Little Blue” with Reid and ”Until It Comes Up Love” with Ziemba are intimate and heart on sleeve delights. This lady takes you through her various parlors to reveal her life’s lessons, and they are worth taking in.

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