by Constance Tucker
I was introduced to Aimée Allen’s music through her 2011 release Winters & Mays and had the pleasure of revisiting her work again in 2015 with Matter of Time. The journey has been a pleasurable experience, as each release brings forth a depth in her artistry that is personal and moving. Her writing has strengthened and offers a seasoned pen bursting with ingenuity. One can instantly hear the reverence, poignancy and social relevance. There is also a deepening of the soulfulness in her voice, not in a gospel emotive, but more so in a darkly hued originality that is uniquely her own sound, and convincingly moving.
Wings Uncaged is an amalgamation of original compositions and original arrangements of well-known standards. Joined by three vivid musicians: bassist Francois Moutin, pianist Billy Test and drummer Kush Abadey together they embark on a thematically drawn ideal of winged creatures. Allen explains “One of the recurrent themes of Wings Uncaged is how winged creatures cope with the challenges and limitations of the natural world. It is about transcending, sometimes escaping, sometimes just surviving, the circumstances around us, literally but also in the spirit. We have to consider breaking out of the conditions that keep us earthbound sometimes, no matter how comfortable we may be, in order to achieve something better.”
I have always loved “Skylark,” and Allen has just given me another reason to indulge my fancy. It is the opening tune on the album and Allen’s voice is commanding. Her assuredness and connection to the lyric is lucid. Moutin is inspired, his tone is focused and linear as Test punctuates with well-chosen notes on the piano, all the while Abadey colorizes the tune on drums with vision.
I would be remiss if I did not introduce “Democracy How (Harmony and Dissonance), a socially conscious original by Allen that tackles the delusion and divide of modern politics aptly subtitled “Harmony and Dissonance.” Allen drives the feeling home with lyrics and music that builds upon the dissonant colorizations musically and at times the abandon of chaos.
“Night Owl,” is an exceptionally intriguing original by Allen, the tune at times elongates, while at other times has a double time feel, almost alluding to the flight of an owl, relaxed and floating at times, while at other times magnificently cutting its way through the night with ferocity.
Wings Uncaged is an apropos title, this being Allen’s fifth album, her wings truly are uncaged and boundless. Embellished with five Allen originals one co-penned by Moutin and Allen titled “Touch the Sun.” Overall, Wings Uncaged offers a multi-faceted step forward in Allen’s discography. Her most adventurous and mature recording to date, one to relish.