[24 April 2008]
The pairing of vocalist Suzanne Santo and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Ben Jaffe has yielded its first project and the early results, showcased on this five-song EP, are very good. The duo possesses a terrific musical chemistry; their ability to marry fine musicianship with distinct personality and voice shows a maturity that most groups can’t claim until much later in a career. Jaffe’s songs are well-written and interesting melodically, avoiding the trite and true melodic crutches to which many songwriters cling. Of course, Jaffe’s skill is all the more noticeable because his tunes are being delivered by the alluring Santo. With the first notes she delivers on opening cut “Little Toy Gun”, Santo immediately throws her lot in with jazz and country vocalists of decades gone by; her voice has a resonant, sultry quality that is timeless. What distinguishes Santo from singers of a similar vocal type is the mix of angelic sweetness and bawdy sexuality she so effortlessly creates. “Thursday Night” best displays this trait: while her dulcet voice lulls the listener, she presents a very frank appeal to a potential lover that will cause even the most even-keel listener to get a bit hot under the collar. The group most often deals in the folk, jazz and country textures that frame Santo’s voice so well, though they add a rougher rock edge when the song allows (“Give Yourself to Me”). Co-produced by singer/songwriter/label exec Jude Cole, Loose Boots is a piece of art painted with a wide variety of musical colors; yet, the album gives hints that Santo/Jaffe have even more on their palette with which to delight listeners on future albums.