Album Review: Wings Uncaged from Aimée Allen
Label: Azuline Music
Wings Uncaged from vocalist Aimée Allen features a contemporary reworking of a handful of jazz standards interspersed with five new swing-inspired originals. Most outstanding about Allen’s rendering is the dreamy quality of her vocals, managing to engulf the listener in the introspective musings expressed in the lyrics.
Her treatment of “Skylark” is mesmerizing welding a siren-esque lure as her handling of “Shooting Star” tailors the song to her vocal facets, accentuating the luminous hues of her register. If one did not know these songs have been performed by many others before, Allen could claim them as her own. She shapes the vocal melodies and the music to her specifications.
“Invitation” showcases Allen’s vocal elasticity, her ability to stretch out notes and etch poignant inflections that draw the listener into the song. The subtle movements of François Moutin’s bass offer listeners moments to be alone with their thoughts, as pianist Billy Test contours Allen’s vocals in softly lit glitter and drummer Kush Abadey threads faint billows. The meditative mood of “In My Web” suspends listeners above their worries and engages their penchant to fantasize.
The social statements she makes through “Democracy How (Harmony and Dissonance)” shares insight and personal commentary about the world around her as she asserts, “We do not speak / We only shout / Democracy / You say to me / This is Democracy / How can it be / Democracy, I still don’t see how this is Democracy / It cannot be / And who are we / Menaced by authority / Who can we be / If this becomes normalcy / How are we free / If this rapidly Democracy / Ceases to be.” Very mature and thought-provoking statements are set to a cool jazz ambience, which proves to be a compatible match. Though the lyrics make listeners question their world and become aware of its contradictions, Allen returns to a laid-back temperament in “Touch the Sun.” Again, putting listeners on a cushiony cloud of languid swells.
The elevated vibrations resonating from Test’s traipsing keys along “Fotografia” is further enhanced by the silky texture of Allen’s vocals singing in French and English intermittently. The throng of skipping beats scrolled by the drums through “Night Owl” stoke the delicate embers of Allen’s voice, as the torchlight cinders of the keys in “Save Your Love” bask her vocals in a sheen of Sarah Vaughan-style elegance.
A recurring theme throughout the recording is rising above the burdens of the natural world. Being lifted into a transcendental frame of mind, elevated above earthly circumstances. Allen uses the power of her voice to engage listeners to break out of the conditions that keep them earthbound and achieve something more, outside of their cages. The music on Wings Uncaged metaphysically uncages listeners and entices them to spread their wings and experience something they would have missed otherwise.
Aimée Allen – Vocals
François Moutin – Bass
Billy Test – Piano (all tracks except 10)
Kush Abadey – Drums (all tracks except 7, 9, 10 and 11)