How a singer songwriter fits in to a jazz fan's consciousness is never obvious. It's not the same as someone being a jazz singer who has the crutch of the Great American Songbook to lean into. On one level we get ''singersongwritery'' anyway from whatever source via some non-jazz artists because the pearls from their songbooks are then interpreted in numerous ways by jazz artists eventually - take the work of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Kate Bush… the list goes on, extensively mined over decades.
This year the singer-songwriter we have liked most often singing originals is someone with an obvious jazz pedigree - the Billy Joel and Randy Newman inspired Jon Regen. Another singer and pianist - here in a very pared back setting singing her own more than decent songs, Berlin scene artist Susanne Folk is just as relevant even when most jazz language has been stripped away.
Hearing say the powerful vocals of Sara Colman or the ingenious melodicism that Joanna Eden does so much to explore in live settings in different jazz clubs over the past year it is clear that Folk's voice (more a gothified update on a 1970s style introspective ballads singer ethic - not at all a folkie) forges a different path to theirs. Folk is also a saxophonist and has besides earlier work for Traumton also recorded for NRW Records, A-Jazz and Jazzwerkstatt. 'Pain' has some of the best dramatic moments. The skeletal setting and a voice that does not belt at all underplays the songs - the arranging could certainly be cranked up with strings for extra impact or a solo horn added to grab soloing space and a few more ''jazz chords'' added to spice things up. But listen to plea-for-compassion song 'Antidote' most where the ''love is not a weakness'' line emanates, to be borrowed for the album title itself. Folk excels in what some might deem unfairly to be middle brow sophistication rather than high art aspirations. But she is never surface nor fake - a big plus point throughout this simmeringly satisfying collection of often broodingly provocative material.
''I've always had a thing for the darkness,'' Susanne Folk photo: detail from the cover art