Ranee Lee - Maple Groove: Songs from the Great Canadian Songbook
Written by Nicholas Jennings
Along with k.d. lang’s Hymns from the 49th Parallel and the recent Gordon Lightfoot tribute album, Lee’s latest represents a new trend: singers mining vintage Canadian nuggets for repertoire. Lee casts songs by Randy Bachman, David Clayton-Thomas and others in a jazz setting—with surprising results. While her version of Lightfoot’s folky “If You Could Read My Mind” swings beautifully, her takes on jazzy pop numbers like Bachman’s “Undun” and Clayton-Thomas’ “Spinning Wheel” fall surprisingly flat.
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Cullum sounds positively inspired since his marriage to model-turned-author Sophie Dahl and the birth of their daughter. Eschewing jazz standards in favor of robust pop, the singer-pianist performs with infectious...