SOPHIE DUNÉR & THE CALLINO QUARTET – The City Of My Soul

Sophie Productions

Describing Sophie Dunér as a “jazz singer” – which she is, for the girl’s artistic roots lie there – is quite reductive after having listened to her latest effort, recorded at London’s All Saints Vicarage in 2010 with the aid of the magnificent girls of Callino (Sarah Sexton and Fenella Humphreys on violin, Rebecca Jones on viola and Sarah McMahon on cello) and producer Michael Haas. The natural reverberation of the recording location adds a little magic to an already consistent series of episodes, seventeen original pieces and two standards (Ellington’s “Caravan” and Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”).

What this CD affirms once and for all is that Dunér is, first and foremost, a composer with appealing proposals, articulated via a kind of writing that regularly utilizes nice contrapuntal twists bordering on dissonance (“Arms Against Reality”), even in apparently harmless sections. A number of tunes come from the preceding album The City Of My Dreams, yet the new arrangements furnish them with improved drive, showing a will to rise above the limited horizons of jazz to investigate contemporary classic environments – occasionally with a pinch of rock (“Hey Doctor”) – with a mix of feminine grace and ironic venom. The latter is particularly evident in some of the lyrics, belittling and deriding typical “cool male” specimens and the aesthetic fixations of certain kinds of women while bringing the protagonist’s romanticism and tendency to creative solitude to the fore, as opposed to the superficiality of the masses (“Happy People”).

Indeed, several petite gems scattered along the program deserve an additional mention: “The City Of My Dreams” (the song), “Silent Revolution”, “The Rain In Spain” are just three. However, at the end of the day singling out stuff is wrong. Pick up a copy of The City Of My Soul and listen with the due attention to the diverse facets – between tradition and nonconformity – of a Swedish artist who doesn’t need stilettos and tit-asphyxiating dresses to allure the listener, leaving that task to the genuine curiosity that the music generates.

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