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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 19 April 2013
I could listen to Liane Carroll for ever. Her new album just soars up there with the best. I'm lucky enough to see Liane most weeks and never tire of her performances. "Here's to life" is just perfection. Love the whole album. Congratulations to James McMillan for producing such a perfect musical experience.
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on 24 May 2013
To be honest - I love to hear Liane rip it up in her live gigs - with that in mind I was not really looking forward to an album of ballads. How wrong was I? Her interpretation of these woderful songs - absolutely captivating - vocally her best yet and great musicianship all round.
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on 21 April 2013
Every listen brings a new discovery. Vocally sublime and exceptional instrumental performances too. What more could you ask for. Buy buy buy.
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on 19 April 2013
Liane's latest is simply stunning. Ballads shows the UK's most gifted jazz vocalist at her peak with definitive
renditions of some true heartbreaking numbers. The understated production is truly graceful and alongside some familiar material which includes 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' and a poignant reading of 'Here's To Life', Liane has also provided us with some rare beauties like the gorgeous 'Calgary Bay' and 'The Two Lonely People'.
The voice cracks and soars with emotion and this album is a true roller coaster for the listener.
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on 18 April 2013
'Ballads', the second album Liane has recorded with producer James McMillan, is quite simply the recording pinnacle of the most brilliant singer you've ever/ never heard of. Though I might be biased in that I know Liane and have seen her countless times in live performance, her career up to this point has yet to propagate the album that would make you yell "YES. THIS IS THE ONE! LET'S SHOUT ABOUT LIANE!".
Until now. Ballads not only excels in the choice of music, ranging from the well known (You've Changed, Mad About The Boy) to the less well known (songs from Todd Rundgren, Sophie Bancroft) and the forgotten gems (Gordon Jenkin's incomparably moving 'Goodbye'), but in arrangements (mostly provided by the peerless Chris Walden), production, and most importantly, performance. Liane 's voice soars and dips and cracks and rips just like you remember at those gigs, whether crammed in like pilchards in her regular Hastings haunt, Porters, or bolted to your seat in rapt awe in concert halls across the world. The playing is beautiful behind her, with notable triumphs notched up by the bass clarinet of Julian Siegel and the piano of Gwilym Simcock, and really, if you put it side by side with Joni Mitchell's Vince Mendoza scored 'Both Sides Now', you will hear that neither loses anything in comparison. The mark of a great record is its ability to convey a moment and capture a mood, and this one does so to the extent that I would say it's the most important vocal jazz record this century, pushing forward as it does the much under-sold and totally wonderful Liane Carroll.

Once you've bought this, go and see Liane performing. I promise your life will seem richer afterwards.
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on 12 August 2013
In isolation or in groups this album contains fantastically performed songs sung with passion and at times great restraint. I love the Todd Rundgren song 'Pretending to care'. There are plenty of great covers here played and sung by a lady who has one of the great current voices in jazz. If you can get to see her live, she'll knock your socks off!

I prefer to listen to these tracks in batches and although briliiantly performed some of the songs would not be my first choice –but then it's not my album, so shut up.
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on 29 April 2013
Liane is a force to be reckoned with. Her voice is on fine form here as is her piano playing. The arrangements are lush and although the song choices are not all to my liking, I still find myself listening right through to the end, which is rare these days with other albums.
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on 25 April 2013
Simply brilliant in many ways. Rather than me waxing lyrical about this album the only way you will get close to understanding how good it really is you will need to buy it, listen to it, listen to it again and again pause and then listen to it again. A sublime and clever blend of talent. If it was a dish on Masterchef then Gregg Wallace would be licking his lips and grinning like grinny cat from Cheshire who got all the cream and milk from Milkington.
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on 7 July 2013
Tunes might help you breath more easily but I was so spellbound by the tracks that I sometimes forgot to breathe - it was that good. With every year and every CD Liane Carroll just gets better and better! This CD will not disappoint you! Great for having on late at night with the lights down low!
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on 2 May 2013
Ballads is a great title for an album full of slow tempo, beautifully arranged, songs of love and romance. So it's a perfect choice as the title for British singer Liane Carroll's album. Except that it falls way short of communicating just what an achievement this album is.

Carroll's previous album, Up And Down (Quiet Money, 2011), was a superb combination of upbeat, up-tempo numbers and emotionally intense takes on songs including "My Funny Valentine" and Tom Waits' "Take It With Me." Ballads is firmly in the latter territory. James McMillan's production is once again exemplary. It's rare to hear vocals recorded with such clarity, where every aspect of the singer's voice is open to scrutiny. It's fraught with danger: what if the singer's voice is revealed as lacking, as falling short, as weak? Daft questions in this case; the exposure simply enhances Carroll's impact.

There's so much to enjoy on Ballads: old school standards like "Only The Lonely," pop classics (Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and Felice and Boudleaux Bryant's "It's Raining In My Heart") and lesser-known gems such as Sophie Bancroft's "Calgary Bay." There's variety, too, in Carroll's musical accompaniments. On "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" there's just Mark Jaimes' guitar and Kirk Whalum's tenor saxophone. On "Only The Lonely" she's joined by a big band, while on "Goodbye," "You've Changed" and "Calgary Bay" the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra provide the accompaniment--the arrangements for all four of these numbers coming courtesy of Grammy nominated Chris Walden.

Todd Rundgren's "Pretending To Care" is a tour-de-force but it's Noel Coward's "Mad About The Boy" that shines most brightly among these jewels. It's a song with a seemingly endless ability for re-invention. Coward's performance is marvellously high camp (Marianne Faithfull's version runs it a close second); Dinah Washington can be defiant or matter-of-fact; Julie London is sultry and confident--she'll make her move when she's good and ready and the boy won't stand a chance.

Carroll's performance of "Mad About The Boy"--with only Gwilym Simcock's piano for company--is heartbreaking. She sings as though she's aware of the futility of her desire but unwilling, or unable, to leave it behind. It shows the greatness of Coward's little ditty, the many emotions that the song can reveal--and the majesty of Carroll's voice. It's just one highlight of many on this exquisite album: Ballads is a classic-in-waiting.
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