Hear The Track HereYou see before you a changed character. Believe it or not, I do scrub up well when I have a mind to it and, well...I'm a bit ashamed to say this but reading back through past Essence reviews I may have been a bit.....er.....male. So, I have decided that respect among artists is much more important than looks and I will not besmirch this review with any of my usual 'tawdry tat to impress women' spiel. S'all about the music now, I am gender-blind. The past couple of Essence tracks have been collaborations with Dan Michaelson, and Big Bands Chicago Blues is a collaboration with another musician; Paul Elet. Essence, to her eternal credit, has worked assiduously to widen her musical range over the past year or so and that is a good thing to see; a willingness to take on something new. (Ed: wow, he really means it)
However, it's a long stretch from her usual dance/dnb roots to big band blues and I have to admit, prior to hearing the track, I had some doubt about it. Not that Essence isn't a good singer, she is. Tackling the blues though - in any form - is a very difficult thing to do justice too. Basically, the musical side of the track is yer Big Band blues workout a la Glenn Miller (being the obvious reference) rendered so well I would have raved about it without Essence doing anything with it. There is an old saying 'it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing' and this track S-W-I-N-G-S; from the clean clear production to the brass arrangements to the backline; perfection. (Ed: I don't believe this, he IS behaving...)
Seems like Essence would have her work cut out sure enough and she takes a step backwards into the early girl groups (think Andrews Sisters) to mine the vocal style and by gum she pulls it off. From the cheeky introduction to the absolutely right on the money boogie woogie feel she gives to it, Big Bands Chicago Blues becomes something much, much more than a great swing track. Everything would in fact have been perfect but the more I listened to the track, the more I became aware of the slight variations in timing between the vocals and the track. It doesn't detract that much from the impact, and to be honest most people probably wouldn't notice it but to me, it mars an otherwise dynamite track.
Highly Recommended big band blues. A **** hair away from MUST HAVE (Ed: DOH!!!)