Singer Hope Waits does to the blues and jazz what the Cowboy Junkies do to rock. Like that band, Waits spends a good deal of her time evoking the essence of a sound without playing any of the obvious notes. Joined by a host of “A” list players including Peter Malick on guitars, Butch Norton on drums, Jeff Turmes and Marty Ballou on bass and Phil Parlapiano on keyboards and accordion, Waits covers a wide swath of musical styles on this, her debut release. "I’ll be Satisfied" kicks things off with a sideways jazz twist that suggests Rickie Lee Jones without the drama. She doesn’t stay in that groove very long before she takes on the barbed wire guitar groove of "You Crossed the Line" and then morphs her way into Billie Holiday’s "Yesterdays" which features horns that could fit neatly into a Woody Allen period piece. Tom Waits’ "Get Behind the Mule" is a slinky little gem while the two Ray Charles covers, "Drown in My own Tears" and "Come Rain or Come Shine", are played under the late night torch when the lights are low, the drinks are running out and everyone is weighing their options. Wait’s own "The Ballad of Judith Anne" is a heartfelt ballad about discovering a secret side to her mother who was murdered. "Cigarettes and Coffee" gives Waits a chance to stretch her vocal chords a bit as she pours plenty of emotion into the tale of contentment at the simple pleasure of sharing late night cigarettes and coffee with her lover. Seeming almost out of place is the Don Robey penned straight blues number, "Mother in Law Blues" which is well done despite feeling like an uninvited guest amongst the cooler jazz cats who inhabit most of the rest of the cuts. Throughout, Waits’ voice draws you deep into the material with her compelling ability to be bold but languid at the same time. Lesser singers would simply overpower the material by pushing too hard. Overall, a disc of subtle, sexy charm that reveals itself over repeated listens. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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