[25 September 2013]
Lorraine Feather’s latest disc, Attachments is very strange and marvelous. The jazz singer writes droll lyrics that border on the surreal. They seem deeply personal and confessional, even as they make little surface sense. The deeper thoughts and emotions suggested get a full range of accompaniment so that one veers from old-time country to avant-garde experimentation to slick jazz to Beethoven instrumentals without ever sounding forced. The affectations are the attractions here;or perhaps, the attachments from which the title comes. Feather understands that anything is possible—Central Park may be controlled by aliens—if the enchantment of human connection is possible.
Feather’s vocal control is breathtaking. Her lyrics go all over the map from simple rhymes to long, evocative lines that never end as much as twist and turn in search of resolution. Her band, especially pianists Russell Ferrante and Shelly Berg, provide excellent rhythmic accompaniment. But it is Feather’s voice and lyrics that shine the most. The goddaughter of Billie Holiday (her father was the jazz critic Leonard Feather) does her godmother proud. God bless the child, indeed.
But the 65-year-old Feather is no kid. Her experience shows, especially on the album’s centerpiece, “The Veil”, an eight-minute-plus opus about love, age, compassion, craziness, and all the other features of a long relationship that emerge as time rolls on. One doesn’t have to be Nathaniel Hawthorne to know that sometimes veils reveal more than they hide. On this, and the other tracks, Feather passionately shows what we conceal reveals more than what we display—and the truth lies in the confusion somewhere between the two.