Liane Carroll's third CD for Splash Point Records is an album of exquisite ballads, returning to the "stripped down" format of solo piano and voice. It is an album of intimate and personal songs - all of which have great meaning to her. The performances are heartfelt and truthful; she is wearing her heart on her sleeve here. Already being hailed as her most perfect album yet, the performances defy anyone to listen without being overwhelmed by the beauty, honesty and emotion of the music. Recorded "live" in the studio, it is Liane at her most powerful, giving her own intense treatment to a range of composers' tunes.
Following hot on the heels of her Best UK Female Singer accolade from Ronnie Scott's, Slow Down was recorded in just a few studio hours, and it confirms that Liane Carroll is all things to all ballads.
With just her piano and her voice (and a little help from fellow singer Ian Shaw on one track) Liane conjures up an amazing range of expression to match her huge vocal range. The standards "Memphis In June" and "All Of Me" are given a bluesy makeover and sound astonishingly fresh and celebratory, while Donovan's "Catch The Wind" is in turn heart-rending and life-loving.
On Slow Down Liane sings her way through the whole spectrum from jazz diva to fragile victim. Van Heusen and Cahn's "All The Way" and Duke Ellington's "In My Solitude" are remade as torch songs, with vulnerability oozing out of every verse, while "Lazy Afternoon" perfectly captures her molasses low tones and silken high ones -her sparse electric piano accompaniment creating a brooding, hypnotic tension.
Liane dedicates the tender "If I Loved You", from the film Carousel, to her grandmother who sang it with her when Liane was a child. Ian Shaw helps out on piano here, and Liane's almost-whispered, lump-in-throat intro develops into a thumping soul ballad. A natural storyteller, Liane gives Tom Waits' ''Take It With Me'' a dose of Kirsty MacColl-like understated passion, personality and dry humour.
Slow Down doesnt just tug at your heart strings, it rips them out by the roots (then apologises with a sheepish grin). --Kathryn Shackleton
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