I suspect that having spent years “traveling the world as a buyer for luxury retailers” Carolyn Lee Jones learned a thing or two about being embraced by luxurious fabric; about being swathed in the diaphanous embrace of something textured and colourful and expensive. It’s plain to see and this seems to have become a carryover into her life as a musician and vocalist because of the manner in which she lets both the poetry of song embrace her as well as how she holds the song itself in a long embrace. Close Your Eyes is an album on which Miss Jones has, in fact, attempted something that is not easy to do; and that too, to seize upon the theme of love and sustain it with smoky seductiveness through an entire album of songs.
Miss Jones has artfully laced together emotional moments of the doubts, hopes, heartbreak and joys of love with a group of musicians that is full attuned to her vision and artistry. She does so with impeccable stylishness and eloquence ornamenting phrases with utterly convincing emotional intensity wholly appropriate to the lyrical narratives in each of the songs. The gains in immediacy and intimacy bring their own rewards and this is clear from triumphant versions of “Confession” and “My Foolish Heart” both of which are perfectly set in tempi befitting the emotional content of the respective songs. Featuring beautifully crafted arrangements (by Brad Williams, Dave Pierce and Sergio Pamies) of beguiling variety and sensuousness, in every lovingly crafted phrase of Close Your Eyes, Miss Jones’ interpretations shine brightly.
The chosen material judiciously focuses on familiar and lesser-known gems. Listening to the way in which Miss Jones seductively bends the notes in “The Nearness of You” and “Love After Midnight”, and how she sculpts the long, sustained invention of “I Only Have Eyes for You”, it’s clear that there’s not a single semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered. The project is also notable for its exceptional quality of musicianship, with all participants communicating the essence of the luscious music with the utmost clarity and engagement. For its only when everyone is attuned to the leader’s artistry and vision that a record as desirable and memorable as this can emerge as a result.
Track list – 1: Close Your Eyes; 2: No Moon at All; 3: I Was a Fool; 4: The Nearness of You; 5: That Old Black Magic; 6: Love After Midnight; 7: Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You; 8: When I Found You; 9: Confession; 10: My Foolish Heart; 11: All Night Long; 12: I Only Have Eyes for You
Personnel – Carolyn Lee Jones: vocals; Brad Williams: piano (1 – 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12), synthesizer (12), Hammond B3 organ (8), arrangements (1 – 3, 6, 9, 11); Sergio Pamies: piano, arrangements and production (4, 10), piano and production (7); Jonathan Fisher: contrabass (1 – 3, 6); Young Heo: contrabass (4, 7, 10); Jeffry Eckels: contrabass (8, 9, 11); Jeff Plant: electric bass (5 – 12); Andrew Griffith: drums (1 – 3, 6); Dennis Durick: drums (5); Lupe Barerra: drums (4, 7, 10); Matt Young: drums (8, 11); Arno Lucas: percussion (5); Todd Parsnow: electric guitar (3, 6); Joe Lee: electric guitar (5, 8); Pepe Valdez: acoustic guitar (4, 7); Tony Baker: trombone (3, 6); Dave Pierce: trombone (5, 8) and arrangements (5, 7, 8, 12); Pete Clagett: trumpet (8, 11); Daniel Pardo: flutes (4, 7); Dave Monsch: tenor and baritone saxophones (5, 8) and tenor saxophone (11)
Released – 2019
Label – Cat n’round Sound
Runtime – 47:36