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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Live at the Lampie

Splash Point SPR 009 CD




1. Love for Sale
2. Falling in Love with Love
3. Alfie
4. Lover Come Back to Me
5. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
6. Come Rain or Come Shine
7. Time after Time
8. Witchcraft
9. Come Rain or Come Shine (alt. take)
Liane Carroll - Vocals
Brian Kellock - Piano

When I first heard Liane Carroll, I was very impressed. She was singing with her trio, and their music was thrilling and infectious - with Liane's brilliant piano-playing an added bonus. Since then she has won numerous awards and this is her fifth project with Splash Point records - an album recorded live last year at the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen with Scottish pianist Brian Kellock.

On this website, I have praised previous albums by both Carroll and Kellock - respectively her Slow Down and his Five Mile Burn Sessions (the latter with Julian Arguelles). In my review of the Kellock/Arguelles CD, I noted the benefit of duos in which two musicians support one another with empathy - and Carroll and Kellock certainly work well together. This is mainly due to Brian's sympathetic accompaniments, which sedulously follow Liane's vocals. In fact Liane sets the pace for most of the album. My review of her previous CD underlined her dynamism and that is clearly evident in this recording.

In fact, Liane Carroll can be rather too dynamic - and this characteristic often leads her to go over the top at this concert session. Despite my enthusiasm for her last CD, I identified a couple of qualities which could be dangerous: Liane's tendencies to shout and to garble song lyrics. My previous review said that "Her singing is so powerful that she sometimes reminds me of a schoolteacher shouting at an unruly group of pupils across a playground". This tendency is acceptable in small doses but Liane has allowed it to turn into a raucously hectoring style which can be overpowering. It seems as if she is trying to foster the image of a powerfully feisty and adventurous singer but the results can feel mannered and over-theatrical - as well as very noisy. One is tempted to borrow the words of a TV commercial: "Calm down, dear!"

In the process of straining for effect, Liane also mangles the lyrics.  If you don't already know the words of these songs, you might be hard-pressed to make them out from this recording. Lover Come Back to Me is performed as if it was a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song, with the lyrics frequently gabbled incomprehensibly. Rodgers & Hart's Falling in Love with Love suffers particularly badly, with scat introduced instead of some words and several lines mutilated (the line "Caring too much is such a juvenile fancy" turns into "Caring too much is such a beautiful fancy"). I know that jazz singers can take liberties, but this just looks like carelessness. Despite the frantic tempo, Brian Kellock manages to play a scintillating solo.

There are some quiet moments in such songs as Alfie, although Liane's intonation sometimes falters on slower numbers like these when she tries to over-dramatise. And in I Got It Bad, her continual swerving around the melody contrasts badly with Kellock's tasteful upper-keyboard decorations.

Liane Carroll's MySpace profile says that she "sounds like a wailing banshee for a certain time once a month". This album suggests that it happens more often than once a month.


Tony Augarde

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