Sure-footed collection of sophisticated songs
Michael Quinn 2008
New Yorker Nell Bryden describes her unique blend of jazz, bluegrass, retro soul, country and 50s' torch songs as 'modern Dixie". Or you could call it pastiche. Which isn't a criticism. If homage sounds a less loaded description, that serves just as well to describe Bryden's easy-going ability to accommodate an eclectic array of period and stylistic references within her own distinctively contemporary sound.
Second Time Around showcases a sultry, smoky-edged, bourbon-laced voice that places Bryden somewhere between Peggy Lee and Julie London to flattering effect. The stomping, speak-easy title track and rockabilly-infused Where The Pavement Ends frame the harder, darker centre of Bryden's voice, with lighter tones and breathy textures captivatingly brought to the fore in the playfully raunchy Tonight, the plaintively tongue-in-cheek cri de coeur Why Can't That Be Me, and in the heart-breaking leave-taking of Green Dress.
Written by Bryden herself, this is a clever, knowing and sure-footed collection of sophisticated songs that, for all their articulate but tumbling allusions to other styles and genres, stand tall on their own attractive and accomplished terms.