Online since August 2002

Too tame with the singing

From the Summer 2004 issue.

Don't Take Your Time
Don't Take Your Time
By Erin Bode

MaxJazz Records: 2004

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Erin Bode isn't just pretty – the woman is knock-dead, take-your-breath-away gorgeous, with the kind of wholesome girl-next-door appeal that once made a young Mary Tyler Moore our national sweetheart. It's a point driven home by the dozens of photographs adorning her debut CD and insert booklet.

What Erin Bode doesn't have is a great voice, nor the kind of confidence and chops to compensate for a lack of pipes.

And so her debut album is a mixed bag at best. Not until the final track, a cover of Irving Berlin's "Count Your Blessings," does Bode seem to find her footing and make a song her own. On the rest of the album, instead of getting inside the songs she seems content to skate atop them.

The backing band is quite solid, and provides a thick backdrop for Bode to sing to. Pianist Bruce Barth and guitarist Adam Rogers particularly attuned to Bode's vocals, providing complementary accompaniment on a set that ranges from Cyndi Lauper to the Gershwins, bluegrass legend Bill Monroe to the Beatles.

But with limited vocal range and a rather thin timbre, the physics of Bode's voice simply don't grab the listener, nor does she beguile with technique – not until the last song, anyway. But on that last tune, she does hint at the fact that a perfect voice is never a prerequisite for the best singers. On this ballad, Bode injects some real personality into her performance, a touch of quiver, some well-placed pauses. The result is a fuller, richer performance than on the rest of the tracks, and a closing that finally leaves the listener hoping to hear more from this young singer.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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