Veronica Swift: This Bitter Earth

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details

Musicians:

Veronica Swift (v)

Label:

Mack Avenue

March/2021

Media Format:

CD, DL

Catalogue Number:

MAC1177

RecordDate:

Rec. date not stated

Veronica Swift's second album for Mack Avenue is an eclectic, unforgettable delight, with the singer's out-and-out virtuosity perfectly matched by a band that can take the music in any direction they please. The 13-track collection kicks off with Swift's intensely moving take on the Robbie Robertson arrangement of ‘This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight’, a mash-up which originally featured on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. A quartet of show tunes follows which include a dazzling, gear-changing take on ‘How Lovely To Be A Woman’, with a wonderfully OTT introduction courtesy of pianist Emmet Cohen.

There are brilliant reworkings of two Rodgers and Hammerstein songs – ‘You've Got To Be Carefully Taught’, whose message of being taught to hate and fear seems sadly all too relevant, and a vibrant ‘Getting To Know You’ – plus the Gershwins' timeless ‘The Man I Love’. Swift recorded the Bob Dorough/Dave Frishberg-penned ‘I'm Hip’ on her spectacular Mack Avenue debut, Confessions, and profitably returns to both writers here. The singer taps right into the joyousness of the late, great Dorough's music in ‘You're The Dangerous Type’, in which she also detonates a towering scat.

Powered by Yasushi Nakamura's pulsing bass ostinato and some outrageous pianistic feats from Cohen, Swift channels the dry humour of Frishberg's ‘The Sports Page’ to perfection. We also get to hear the Lionel Bart-penned torch song ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ (from Oliver!), a gorgeous take on ‘Prisoner Of Love’ (which nods subtly to the great version on Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster), plus an indescribably powerful take on The Dresden Dolls' ‘Sing’, which delivers the album's final emotional payload in spectacular fashion.

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