What is significant here is the directness and the range. And that isn't just in the pared-back voice and piano setting, fine choice of material, or simply the power of melody most evident on the version of Paul Simon's 'The Sound of Silence.'
The tendresse is the pervasive largesse of the generosity of approach exhibited throughout. A wee small hours of the morning record when the party's over, the candles flicker and dim and as previously noted the new vocals-piano version of Sachal Vasandani's 'No More Tears' is an exquisite, coming-to terms with heartbreak ballad and better than a previously released version.
So, the production concept seals the deal. Its approach means that yes there is a certain nakedness on this studio affair recorded at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn last summer. But the point is that its direction amplifies the honesty in the rendering of songs both historic and contemporary that allows both voice and piano to be easily untangled and appreciated more however much they exist in a togetherness as they of course do.
Not a giddy record by any means. But you don't need to don the hairshirt either to appreciate its qualities because of the deep luxuriance and humanity found in the sound that allows both tears in the joy and happiness in the darkness.
Sachal's voice on Elizabeth Cotten's 'Freight Train' plunges deep like to some perhaps a jazz George Ezra. Not really apt. Perish the reductiveness in the thought. But there is like a drop shadow in the graphic edge of his timbre that it flashes up such a casual notion because its richness hooks you in on a deceptively simple level. This charming folk song goes back to the very early 20th century. Cotten was a domestic for Peggy Seeger's family and taught the song to the future great singer who recorded it in the 1950s, the track appearing on Origins of Skiffle. Her voice is so high by contrast to Sachal's burrowing ever deeper plunge down the stave.
Pianist Romain Collin plays very quietly but appropriately so throughout, think Jamie Safir a bit in terms of empathy but Collin's touch isn't really the same because it leans more Brad Mehldau-like. Sachal's utterly unique voice is the purest cashmere and ''soft singing'' in the mould of Chet Baker has never sounded the same since Chet practically trademarked the concept and that Sachal moves on immeasurably to live again shaped to his own individual way of sounding.
Songs include Billie Eilish 2019 song 'I Love You', the aforementioned Simon classic from 1965 and there is a brainwave of a Peter Gabriel choice in the inclusion of 'Washing of the Water' (from the 1992 Us album). At heart Still Life is about love, the greatest word in any language and serves the muse admirably in a spirit of wisdom and ample provision of light. SG. Released on 15 July