(CD Flying Jewel Records)
The name Hutchinson may sound familiar to some of you. You may remember Leslie Arthur Hutchinson (Hutch), the famous cabaret artist and jazz singer, who had sold millions of records in his peak years from the early 1920's till the late 40's. Emma Hutchinson is Hutch's youngest daughter and after singing with British a capella group Sweet Soul Sisters from 1992 on and later forming the Emma Hutchinson Quintet and the Emma Hutchinson Blues Band we finally get her debut album Hummingbirds.
And what a brilliant album it is. Full of fresh, original compositions that comes to you in best jazz/funk/soul fashion with warm Fender Rhodes, organ, drums, bass, guitars, percussion and saxophon. Congratulations to Emma for finding musicians like Gary Bamford (Fender Rhodes, organ), Valère Speranza (bass) or Rob Brian (drums) who create a relaxed sound that just oozes class and is full of reminiscences of soul music's halcyon days of the 70's.
All songs were written by Emma. She wrote most of them when she was married to an American actor and lived in Hollywood in 1996. That's why the first track is called Homeless In Hollywood, a great jazz-funk groove about shattered and broken dreams in Tinseltown ("Iím homeless in Hollywood/ Iíve pawned everything I own/ Donít you know the desertís cold at night/ And dreams donít keep you warm/ When youíre sitting on the sidewalk lonely and cold/ I had some dreams a long, long time ago/ But now theyíre gone, where did they go?/ I donít know")
Were We Never In Love? sees Emma reflecting on her marriage break-up over a fine soulful midtempo song ("Loveís a precious thing/ If you pull off its wings/ There is nothing you can mend/ To make it fly again/ What was beautifulís in tatters/ Cos we forget what matters").
Don't Give Up On Love is a beautiful ballad that gives you hope even if you're love affair has turned sour.
Living in Hamburg/Germany, a town that is notorious for its rainy days, a song title like I Miss The Rain sounds a little odd to me, but this is a swinging midtempo track with Andy Kirman on alto saxophone, that just makes me believe everything Emma sings about.
Emma also wrote a song about her niece Altaea, a sung declaration of love that comes in the shape of a jazzy ballad. Altaea can be very proud of her aunt.
With eleven songs on offer there are many more great songs I could rave about like the soul lullaby On A Wing And A Prayer or the title track Hummingbirds, yet another brilliant ballad. But to cut a long story short, I just advice you to get this album since this is really a must have for 2004, just like Monica Dillon's All I Have Is A Moment for example.
Emma cites almost every good musician as her influence like Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, the Gershwins, the Beatles, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Ashford & Simpson, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Al Jarreau, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and Chaka Khan. And after having listened to Hummingbirds over and over again, you'll discover that Emma has studied her masters very attentively. But she's not copying anyone although you find echoes of Roberta Flack or Carole King for example, Emma has really developed her own style and that's what makes this album so great. And of course the fact that this is the perfect album you can play on a warm summer evening (though it may even warm the coldest winter day)...but since spring is approaching in Europe, I guess I just long for really warm days outside and Hummingbirds will the perfect soundtrack for these days.
(For more information and sound snippets visit emmahutchinson.com, cdbaby.com and soundclick.com. You can find Emma Hutchinson's song lyrics here and make sure to read an interview with Emma here)