The first thing to bear in mind about Viktoria Tolstoy, that, like a tiny number of jazz singers out there (Dianne Reeves, Cécile McLorin Salvant, etc) she has a technically perfect and very pure voice.
Does the thinking behind Stations rise to that level? Certainly the songs are very well chosen and just about everything works.
A vocal version of 'Poinciana' stands out chief among the surprises. Of course the standard is embedded in popular jazz consciousness in a piano trio version by Ahmad Jamal. Tolstoy does it justice, however odd it is to hear it sung.
Tolstoy is positive and full of zest on 'I Should Run' buoyed by her band who include excellent pianist Joel Lyssarides. Krister Jonsson on guitar has quite a part to play also while Mattias Svensson on bass and Rasmus Kihlberg on drums offer firm support. Tolstoy is too Eurovision-y on the title track however, just a bland pop song really but she never falls over that precipice although teeters on the brink briefly here.
Made in a Gothenburg studio last May produced by trombonist Nils Landgren, Tolstoy has incredible diction, you can discern every syllable of every word immediately and again that is extremely rare and very welcome but not new as long time followers of the singer will know.
'Land Of The Humble' is the sort of song a crossover country singer such as Nathan Carter might like to sing and if the album continued in this possible take-over direction I think a lot of jazz fans might drift off. However, a bluesy dose of reality wins me back on Bob Dylan's 'Million Miles' while 'The Streets Of Berlin' is dark cabaret in a way and works quite beautifully mainly because it is tastefully slow. Tolstoy's version of 'The Old Country' is typically creamy and mooches along quite nicely moving into the mainstream jazz space that suits Tolstoy best of all. A solid showing. Stations represents the Swede's best record in simply years. SG
Photo of Viktoria Tolstoy: Josefine Baeckstroem/ACT