Caro Emerald Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

It’s not rocket science – good songs sung well makes a great album.

Lloyd Bradley 2010

This album has spent longer at number one in the Dutch charts (27 non-consecutive weeks) than any other, and although that’s a bit like saying "Sneezy was the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs" it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Thriller only managed 26 weeks. It’s also the sort of album that could only have been taken seriously somewhere like Holland – big-band jazz and lounge, fronted by a vocalist channelling Jane Russell’s wardrobe. However, Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor is so thoroughly joyous and cleverly thought out it’s almost impossible not to be seduced by it.

Emerald is a conservatory trained jazz vocalist and it’s her consummate mastery of this specific skill allows her to hold her own against a fiery swing band, while focussing on interpreting the songs not just hitting the notes. These dozen songs ease their way around swing, mambo, rumba and lounge, as big rich vocals weave the kind of witty, intriguing stories sure to draw you into a world of loves lost, found and betrayed. The orchestrations, too, understand the styles to such a degree they can be subverted with subtle modern twists to stop this being a museum piece: the spectacular Absolutely Me is what Cab Calloway would have done if he’d ever had a drum machine; The Other Woman features the funkiest xylophone you’ll ever hear, mixed with the sort of electric guitar that ought to have its own 60s TV theme.

But while the arrangements add an almost cinematic setting to the narratives, this is all about the vocals. Numbers like Just One Dance and You Don’t Love Me are Basie-type big band pushing Emerald to fabulous heights, while Back It Up shows off a croon so smoky it could extinguish most modern torches. New Orleans-style syncopation causes no problems either as bounces through the quirky Dr Wanna Do and even a couple of thinner songs are brought back to life by singing of this quality.

Really, it’s not rocket science – good songs sung well makes a great album. Ultimately it’s a bit like their approach to football, city centre traffic and recreational drugs, one more example of how the Dutch seem to know something we don’t.

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