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Claire Martin - Take My Heart -

29 December 1999
Alex Henderson

A major departure from Claire Martin's previous efforts, Take My Heart marked the first time she recorded an album that had very little to do with jazz. The British singer had never been a jazz snob; she always had a healthy appreciation of rock, pop and R&B. But jazz was her foundation -- if she interpreted a Tom Waits or Stevie Wonder song, she did so from a jazz perspective. Take My Heart, however, is essentially a pop album with R&B, folk, rock and jazz references -- the only thing on the CD that can honestly be called jazz is a torchy interpretation of the Cahn/Van Heusen classic 'Only the Lonely'. A gently introspective tone defines this album, and her remakes of Elvis Costello's 'Baby Plays Around', the Beatles' 'Help!' (which she changes from uptempo pop-rock to relaxed pop-folk) and Paul Simon's 'Jonah' sound quite personal. Martin co-wrote a few of the songs, including the Joni Mitchell-ish 'Pleading Guilty' and 'Inner City Girl,' a pop/R&B gem that encourages a poor woman to be strong and persevere despite the challenges she faces. Thankfully, Martin the pop singer proved to be every bit as compelling as Martin the jazz singer.
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