Music Review: Holly Cole - Night

Cole's having a bunch of fun here, with the song choices and the arrangements. But never once does she sacrifice artistry for cleverness. Simply, these are great songs, often fun to perform, and great to hear in such fresh versions. Backed as usual by the sterling Holly Cole Trio (Aaron Davis - piano, David Piltch - bass), guests include string master Gerg Leisz with a great lap steel solo on You Only Live Twice, and the brilliant Kevin Breit on guitar for a couple of tracks. This is pretty much the A-team of class in Canada.

A couple of tracks premiered on Cole's live album from earlier this year, Steal The Night, make their studio appearances here, Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues, and her original, You've Got A Secret, a sultry and dark mystery tune. There's a thematic connection as well, as all the songs on the new disc revolve around nighttime in some fashion, including dreams, late-night thought and sadness, a starry sky, or loneliness. That beautiful 30's number, I Only Have Eyes For You, done by everyone from Jolson to Sinatra to Garfunkel, but perhaps best as a doo-wop hit by The Flamingos, asks "Are the stars out tonight/I don't know if it's cloudy or bright", the singer blinded by love. Cole's version slows down the tempo, leaves in some doo-wop harmonies, and lets Davis' piano ring. Breit drops in some subtle backgrounds, and Johnny Johnson blends in some lovely bass clarinet. It's a masterful band arrangement.

Other surprises include that great Canadian hit, Susan Jacks' I Thought Of You Again, recast as a country number, following the train motive. Bless her, Cole never forgets the Canadians. Even more interesting is the take on Viva Las Vegas, with all of its night-time casino energy. Here it's not the Elvis shouter, but a much more smooth version, complete with a big brass section and piccolo, a fine bit of 60's cool jazz. Add in a Captain Beefheart (!) number, Love Lies, the usual couple of Tom Waits covers, and a powerhouse vocal on Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind, and this Night is bright for Cole.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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