Claire Martin - He Never Mentioned Love - Atlanta Audio Society

In "He Never Mentioned Love," her latest release on Linn, Claire Martin pays homage to her greatest influence, the late and legendary American songstress Shirley Horn. If it's true as they say that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," this lady is nothing if not dead-on sincere. There is a noticeable borrowing here, but with differences in tempo, style and emphasis that allow Ms. Martin to make these songs all her own.

 

In an earlier review I praised Claire's ability to "hold and caress the underlying moods in [a song], the sensual joy and pain that slowly percolate up through the melodies or flow as smooth as cream." She does it beautifully here, in a voice so deeply rich and seamless that she sounds eerily like her professed role model. There's no cheap melodrama in these songs of heartbreak and missed chances at love. Claire Martin has an intuitive sense of how to handle the emotion in a song lyric, or even a single word, right to the end of the bar, a "jazz sense" that distinguishes the true artist.

 

"He left me broken / every dream I had was left unspoken / Just as he had come, / he gave no warning and was gone again! / He never mentioned love / He never even mentioned love..." Consider yourselves alerted, jazz deejays. There are thirteen songs on this SACD. Set the needle down (or whatever you say nowadays) on any track, and you'll have an instant hit. The songs are all the more welcome for not being overly familiar. Besides the title song, Claire gives us memorable accounts of "Forget me," "Trav'llin' light," "The music that makes me dance," "All night long," and "Everything must change." "There are not many things in life that  we can be sure of / except... / Rain comes from the clouds, / sunlight from the sky / and hummin'birds do fly!"

 

And also "A song for you," "Slowly but Shirley," and "Slow time." Plus "If you go, / if you love me no more / If I know / that you want me no more / Then the sun would lose its light / and day turn into night / Night without stars / Deep night without stars!" And "L.A. Breakdown" ("Don't be hard and unforgiving / It's tough enough for me just living / Getting tired of being a loser on the run"), "You're nearer" (than my head is to the pillow, / nearer / than the wind is to the willow), and "The sun died." Winners all.

Credit some yeoman support on this disc from Gareth Williams, piano; Clark Tracey, drums; and Laurence Cottle, bass.

Atlanta Audio Society
04 June 2007