By Gail Reynolds, Rock At Night Columnist
CD review of Angela McCluskey’s The Roxy Sessions (Release date September 9, 2016)
We of Rock at Night Tampa Bay have been over the moon listening to the advance copy of Angela McCluskey’s The Roxy Sessions, poised for release September 9. The Glasgow born New Yorker conceptualized it as a “1920’s inspired ‘60’s album,” a description that teases the imagination and has multilayered significance. Both decades are characterized by expanded sexual and social latitude after periods of marked repression, and both produced enduring music.
But that’s just for starters. I discerned elements of the other decades as well. In fact, as I investigated her previous recordings, including those of her 2002 Curio and 2004 The Things We Do albums ,as well as various YouTube posts, I saw she clearly appreciates music of all eras and genres, including classical, and can deftly intertwine seemingly disparate elements to produce masterpieces.
“8 Stories High,” the first cut of The Roxy Sessions, has a ragtime feel, but is mischievously sinister as Randy Newman’s accompaniment to his “Lonely At The Top.” The second cut, “Not Crying Anymore,” has a Benny Goodman-like clarinet thread. And cut three,“Let’s Get Lost” has a definite twenties feel, suitable for dancing the Charleston yet leaps ahead in time with a tinge of Cab Calloway.
McCluskey’s vocalizations are unique, yet beg comparison if nothing else but to attempt description: She is not unlike Stevie Nicks, Marianne Faithful or Cyndi Lauper, who is a McCluskey fan. Sometimes artistic chameleon McCluskey channels Billie Holiday as she did on Roxy’s seventh cut, tango “What About Us?” (Do check out her cover of Holiday’s iconic “Don’t Explain” and “God Bless the Child.”)
The 1960s aspect of the CD manifests itself in surprising ways. There is a cinematic quality to her arrangements. “Paris To Hollywood” reminds one of Henry Mancini soundtracks providing backdrops for sophisticated Givenchy and Saint Laurant clad leading ladies. And then, elsewhere in the album, there is that distinctive electric music – or musik – of synthesized sounds in their experimental stages. Thus, the vintage elements are ultimately rendered in a contemporary, edgy and fresh manner
It was difficult to stay focused solely on the twelve fabulous cuts of The Roxy Sessions, as it seemed to me that every previous artistic creation of Angela McClusky’s, including a one woman play, was a significant landmark leading to her most current destination. The Roxy Sessions is fun while intellectually stimulating. Listen for yourself.
The Roxy Sessions on iTunes
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