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HILARY JAMES - You Donít Know

HILARY JAMES - You Donít Know
Acoustics CDACS070

Smooth blues meets sophisticated jazz in this beautifully produced CD from the highly talented and experienced Hilary James. The lady’s sweet mellifluous tones dance through a range of classic melodies, covering songs by Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, among others. One self-penned track is included, the dreamy and wistful Last Show Tonight. Stories of love and loss feature strongly.

Highlights include a delightfully playful version of Rev Gary Davies’ Say No To The Devil, exquisite vocals on the slow-paced Need Your Love So Bad, and jaunty renditions of Frankie And Johnny and They All Laughed. With no weak tracks, the songs chosen are all excellent examples of the principles of composition, showcasing solid structures, harmonies and lyrics. The album cover includes song notes, but no lyrics.

Hilary’s light and soulful vocals are the key feature of You Don’t Know, providing a lesson in how to deliver complex and fast-paced lyrics with clarity and subtlety. The standard of musicianship is of the highest, with Simon Mayor’s guitars, mandolins and violin providing intricate and deft support throughout – New Orleans and Rock Salt And Nails being good examples. Dave Fentimen contributes neat guitar work, while Simon Price and Dave Mattacks share the drumming. Hilary’s own bass creates a tight rhythmic foundation, for instance on Separation Blues.

You Don’t Know is a tasteful and professional album. Thoroughly polished and highly enjoyable, it is a reminder of how good songs retain their quality, but they can always be presented in new and refreshing ways.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.