Title - 'Brand New'
Artist - Anne Walsh
Born Anne Valerie Walsh in Worcester, Massachusetts into a musical family, Anne's father Frank was a baritone/tenor who sang in many productions for local light opera companies. After her high school choir girl days, Anne went on to attend Anna Maria College where she studied voice and music therapy. However, she wanted more in the form of a performance career. After graduation the determined young singer ventured out to southern California to pursue her dream.
Anne soon found her voice driving a forgettable classic rock band, but in time realized it wasn't the best use of her talents. A musician colleague suggested she enroll at Orange Coast College, where she met the head of the jazz department, and enrolled in jazz improv classes and the big band rehearsal groups.
The rest, as they say, is history, for after receiving her Masters degree, Anne Walsh has since gone on to release five albums. The latest gem has just been released from A To Z Music and is called Brand New and is just one of those albums that makes you beg that it never ends once it starts playing.
Her 2009 release Pretty World received a Grammy nomination in the category "Best Arrangement For Singer" and I can only assume that her stellar vocal and arrangement work here on Brand New will follow equal suit. The album begins with the flowing (pardon the pun) 'Amazon River' (Dori Caymmi), before we head into the stunning title track itself, 'Brand New.' But it's her evoking arrangement of songwriting giants John Lennon & Paul McCartney on a daring cover of their 'Here, There and Everywhere' that truly starts to polish this album into a diamond. It is, simply put, amazing and is backed superbly by both 'The Beat (Batuque)' and then an out-of-nowhere-brilliant Burt Bacharach & Hal David-penned cover of 'I Say A Little Prayer.'
Enriched by elaborately-orchestrated string, horn and woodwind sections while a few cuts stir a poignant swoon as sparsely-rendered piano and voice sketches, Brand New just doesn't put a foot wrong. Up next is 'Coisas Do Amor' where Walsh duets with bassist Cardoso in Portuguese. That is followed by an ethereal treatment of 'My Prayer,' which in turn is backed by both the compelling storytelling mindset of 'The Writings On The Wall' (where Walsh chronicles the career accomplishments and challenges faced by Astrud Gilberto) and then a delicious cover of the Alan & Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand-penned 'Windmills Of Your Mind.' A rather fun, perky 'To Sir With Love' (written by Don Black and Mark London and sung in 1967 by Lulu) is next, and then the album is rounded out by both 'Salt Sea' (Sergio Mendes & Lani Hall) and then a quite unexpected, and rather alluringly dramatic reading of Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy.'
Chock full of beautiful Brazilian jazz rhythms which both enhance and freshen the vibrant pop melodies that soprano song siren Anne Walsh’s new album embodies, Brand New may comes across as something you think you might well have come across before, but you haven't, trust me. Enlisting those trusted agents of sound, both beauty and romance, this spring get ready to be bewitched by Ms. Walsh and her collection of, well, brand new songs.