Review – The Good Hours
The Good Hours is a jazz album by the singer Rachael Price. She is blessed with a voice comparable to that of the jazz greats and uses it to great effect throughout this album, but the lack of challenge in the album and a number of weaker performances keep this from being a masterpiece.
The first thing that will strike anyone listening to this album is how good Ms. Price’s voice is. You could place her tracks in between those of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and they would not seem a hair out of place. Her voice is far and away the strongest thing about this album and, despite the occasional instrument solo, is all you are likely to remember. Listen to her version of Skylark or Mood Indigo and they may as well be a capella for all the impact the band makes. She moves into Samba jazz for a single song in the middle “Lagrimas Negras”, which although a fun change is one of the weakest tracks of the album. She is a classic jazz singer who just happens to be releasing records now, and that is where she is best.
This album does have swing though. The first track, That Old Black Magic starts things off well and the album keeps its bounce throughout. It has all of the energy and the simplicity of a 1920s swing record and manages to reconstruct much of the feeling those albums would bring up. However, possibly as a result of all that old-time feeling, this album does not challenge the listener, which should be a fatal flaw in a jazz record. There are exceptions, The Trolley Song has all of the verve of Billie Holiday singing They Can’t Take That Away From Me. However, the majority of the songs, while not as easy-listening as a Kenny G record, are far from cerebral.
Although this is Rachael Price’s album the band backing her does a quite solid job throughout. There are a couple of nice solos; the vibraphone in That Old Black Magic or the piano in The Trolley Song. They do not stand out, but they perform quite well and do all that could be asked from them. The piano especially frames her voice excellently, but like any frame, is a distant second to the picture itself.
The Trolley Song, Skylark, Stairway To The Stars and Mood Indigo are all exceptional performances and should be picked up if you have any love of swing jazz or just good singing. The rest of the album however is nothing really special. If you have exhausted your Fitzgerald and Lady Day collections but want more, then this is certainly worth picking up and even otherwise you will have a quite solid album on your hands, just not a very challenging one.