By Lisa Dib on www.thedwarf.com.au
Holy hell, this is making me happy. Having recently seen Cherry Poppin’ Daddies live at the Corner Hotel in Melboure, I have been spinning the Daddies’ swing-jazz big-band wares of late, and a lot.
It’s very easy for a band to pop “swing,” et al on their MySpace page because they once got dragged to a production of Chicago, but when bands and singers really do it right . . . brother, it’s a thing of beauty.
Speaking thereof, Dutch singer Caro Emerald and her spectacular band have released their debut album, Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor, to a horrifying lack of acclaim (outside of their home country where they spent longer at number one on the charts than Michael Jackson’s Thriller); from the opening few seconds of “That Man,” my shoulders were already swaggering and my foot poised to tap-tap-tap.
“That Man” and “Just One Dance” are powerful jazzy swing numbers that would defy Danny Elfman himself to do better, leading to the substantially poppier “Riviera Life.” But a warmly wailing sax signals the opening of oddly urban debut single “Back It Up” and Emerald’s smooth, sweet vocals in your earhole.
“The Other Woman” sounds as if Emerald should be singing it from atop a piano, spilled like a glass of a wine over an extravagant instrument in a smoky bar. Like Winehouse (pre-crack breakdown) before her, Emerald not only performs but inhabits the time from which this music resonates; Emerald’s voice is less ballsy than the aforementioned Wino but undeniably more suave and pleasing.
“You Don’t Love Me” and “Dr Wanna Do” are soaked in cheeky jazz double entendre and spritely horns while “Stuck” channels Lily Allen’s boppy, sparse pop sound; “I Know That He’s Mine” shifts between reggae/urban-esque dark swagger and loungey torch ballad with Emerald’s vocals sounding like they were emanating from a World War II gramophone.
The murky pep is pumped back in with album enders “A Night Like This” and “The Lipstick on His Collar;” gold standard horn arrangements here, guys. Though a number of tracks here are about infidelity and deceit, Emerald burns them out with the swing and moxy not seen nearly enough in modern female artists. Seen anyone to rival Jane Russell in this day and age? If it’s not Caro Emerald, I’d like to meet a better candidate. As Emerald states loud and proud in “Absolutely Me:” “Clear the way, boys; the lady has arrived.”