Lucky for us we ran across Tara Linda or to be more accurate she reached out to this critic thus saving me the time, effort, and energy of playing musical prospector as I sift for that gold nugget. Linda's forth release is an aptly title somewhat throwback release on the more torch and swing oriented traditions of jazz from the 1930's when jazz was indeed America's pop music. The smoke filled room of a sultry ballad to the playful sass of some swing with just the right amount of attitude without bordering on self indulgent, Tara Linda's forth release is as far from the mundane as one can get. A soulful delivery combine with spot on phrasing and some more contemporary hooks has Torch and Sass as one of the eclectic sleepers of the year for vocalists. The interesting thing after doing some research is that Linda is taking the tortoise and the hare approach to her craft. A vocal evolution in her talent finds her moving from "entertainer" to "singer" to "vocal artist" with a seamless quality very few can match.
"Flux and Flow" kicks the release off with a slightly more acoustic flavor than one would expect. All music, lyrics and arrangements are by Tara Linda which makes her far more than the typical jazz triple threat if you toss her her impeccable vocals. "Recession Stomp" is a definite old school throw back and a whimsical look at the current flat lined economy yet this solid lyricist could have been writing from almost any dire financial perspective throughout American history. There is a delightful yet eclectic minimalism to this tune that borders on infectious with flair and a deceptively subtle swing that makes the ordinary the extraordinary on what could have been nothing more than an average tune at best. "Siren Swimming" closes the releases with a dream like ambient feel of going on holiday without every leaving home. Impressive notes on this release are numerous. Linda has a pristine voice, a solid ability as a lyricist, and an intriguing ability to adjust harmonics on the fly. Tara Linda may also fit well in the critics worst nightmare scenario by sidestepping genre with ease. Torch and Sass includes playful riffs on thematic concepts of the bossa nova, tango, and even Indian jazz done light years ahead of some of her contemporaries. If I had to make any "critical" remark it could be to lose the whole 1930's throwback. Sing it but don't advertise for a far more ethereal spin on the blatantly obvious. I make this remark in the specific context that given her prolific talent, to pigeon hole this artist would be incredibly unfair.
4 out of 5 stars. As Linda continues to develop as a viable force then she can easily pick up that extra star out of petty cash quickly!
Tracks: Flux and Flow; Restless; Recession Stomp; Boy; Little Miss Remiss; I'll Cross Any Bridge For You; Rain Rain; Un Beso Dulce; Muse's Tango; Rumor Mill Swing; Dreaming Tigers; Seaside Rendezvous; Siren Swimming.
Personnel: Tara Linda: vocals, accordion (9), baritone ukulele (2,13), bass (8).; Steven Strauss: soprano ukulele (6), bass (6); Jesse Sheehan: tablas (11); Noe Sanchez: trumpet (2-3, 5-7, 10); Az Samad: acoustic guitar (2-4, 6-9, 13), electric guitar (8); Rudy Ruffelsen: drums: (2-5, 7,9,10,12); Jeff Hobbs: violin (9); Rafael Herrera: drums (1,6,8); Charles Hearn: tenor sax: (2-3, 5-7, 10, 12); soprano saxophone (11), back up vocals (6); Ron Harrington: bass (2-4, 7,9); Ron Guensche (bass (1); Paul Eastburn: basss (5 10-12); Jose Alvarez: guitar (1); Zeke Aguilar: piano: (2-5, 7,10, 12); alto saxophone: (5,11), back up vocals (6).