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Claire Martin - Perfect Alibi - Audiophile Audition

28 August 2008
Audiophile Audition
Tom Gibbs
5 Stars

This reissue from Linn Records offers Claire Martin's 2000 album "Perfect Alibi" as a 5.1 multichannel SACD - previously only available as a stereo SACD. And despite the fact that the stereo-only disc was excellent, for those of us who are enamoured with surround sound, this new 5.1 mix takes an already incredibly good disc to an entirely different level of enjoyment!  For those unfamiliar with Claire Martin, she regularly wins polls and awards in England as best female jazz singer, and she hosts her own jazz show on the BBC. And while most of her records are firmly in the jazz idiom, this disc of mostly covers takes on more pop-oriented fare - both new and classic - although many of the songs are delivered with a jazzy twist and her trademark smoky-sweet voice.

Many of the songs here will be instantly recognizable to most listeners, and there are some less frequently performed chestnuts as well as newer tunes that are greatly deserving of the showcase they're given here. At the very least, Claire Martin isn't afraid to take chances with her choices of repertory, and many of the songs here are given bold arrangements that often incorporate instrumentation outside the mainstream. Particularly enjoyable are her takes on Jimi Hendrix's Up From The Skies and the really gut-wrenching, bluesy take she gives Al Kooper's More Than You'll Ever Know, one of my all-time favorite Blood, Sweat and Tears songs. She also works magic with overlooked gems like Phoebe Snow's Inspired Insanity and Laura Nyro's He's A Runner. Another tune I can't seem to get out of my head is Over By Allenby, a song I'd never heard before, but it sure does seem familiar!

Many of the songs are very guitar-oriented, and Paul Stacey is to be especially commended for the excellent work he turns in here - man, can that guy play! The sound quality of this disc is nothing short of magnificent; the stereo-only disc was already superb, but many will probably welcome the opportunity to experience this excellent surround remix. And at only about $15, who can resist? Highly recommended!
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