Secret Love -

Claire Martin shows why she is one of England's top jazz vocalists with her latest release "Secret Love." The album, Martin's 10th, perfectly showcases the singer's cool style and smoky voice. The album features mostly older material, which at first glance gives the impression of being just another standards CD. Martin's fine timing and understated delivery, however, never grow old. She gives Irving Berlin's Cheek To Cheek a fresh kick, performing the classic at breakneck speed and allowing plenty of room for the musicians to have solo work. Martin also delivers a straightforward, yet stylish, version of Rosemary Clooney's But Beautiful written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. The Meaning Of The Blues gets a gentle Latin treatment, fueled by Martin's cool approach and Julian Jackson's jazzy harmonica playing.
The CD's standout, however, isn't an older tune, but the relatively new "God Give Me Strength" by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach. It's a heavyweight song that could leave lesser singers drowning in syrup. Martin, however, avoids such trappings by performing the number in a gentle, hushed manner, her voice rising to match the swelling music before dropping back down for the next verse. She injects the song with power while avoiding histrionics. The same can be said for the rest of the CD. From track to track, Martin shows not only formidable talent but good taste.

"Secret Love" hits all the right notes. Martin is surrounded by a group of fine musicians, including guest appearances by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett on piano and guitarist Jim Mullen.

Born in Wimbledon in 1967, Martin released her debut album, "The Waiting Game," in 1992. Since then, she has earned critical acclaim and numerous awards in her native land. It's about time that the United States catches on.
04 July 2005