Too tame with the singing
From the Summer 2004 issue.
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).