by Constance Tucker
Dream, Allen’s debut into the national scene introduced the listener to Allen with a predominately jazz standards overview and Allen’s ability as an arranger was immediately evident. Her second recording l’Inexplicable, released in 2007, featured all original French tracks and began to show the listener the breadth of Allen’s abilities. With the release of Allen’s third outing Winters & Mays, her abilities as a composer, songstress and lyricist burgeoned to the forefront.
Allen is joined by Guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Toru Dodo, bassist Craig Akin, and drummer Jacob Melchior, along with accordion virtuoso Victor Prieto who is a guest artist on three tracks, which gives the recording an international flavor.
Allen negotiates flawlessly through a plethora of moods. Connecting the listener with a familiar cut “Peel Me a Grape” is a smart opener, what makes this cut special is, you can instantly recognize Allen is much more than a standards vocalist. Her phrasing instantly gives this cut a new flair and her vocal range is used to add interest to her lines.
A highlight for me as the listener was an original composition “Eden Autumn and Noah Too.” Dedicated to two nieces and nephew, the haunting melody gives light to a serious message of hope and tomorrow. Allen soars on this cut; her vocals are confident, yet inviting.
The melody to Allens’ “Love Aloud,” might sound familiar and you are right. Aimée’s inspired lyric to the Pat Metheny composition “Always and Forever” is also included here, with his permission, as a new title, “Love Aloud.” Allen’s voice ascends to a breathy high register, while in the next breaths it reaches to the depths of her low tones with crystalline clarity, which elevates the track to a high point of emotion.
“Fragile” a Sting composition, is a perfect fit for Allen’s genuine vocal style. Taken at a mid-tempo pace, it lends itself to Allen’s vocal aptitude of elongated notes, which heightens the mood and accentuates the well crafted ideas Allen puts forth in this recognizable tune. Allen truly puts her signature style on this rendition.
Winters & Mays is a beautiful calling card for Allen as a fully fledged composer, lyricist and vocalist. Her ideas are filled with depth and meaning and her lyrics profoundly unique. With three releases under her belt that already show her immense abilities, I am certain her next release will be a tour de force to be reckoned with. Truly a masterful artist in the making, I look forward to her next release and the years to come.