Artist: Anna Luca
Album: Listen & Wait
Genre: Soul, Pop, Nu Jazz, Indie
Label: Chinchin Records
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)
Beautiful Dawn (4:20)
Miracle Of Love (3:58)
Listen And Wait (3:19)
Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket (4:01)
Old Fellow Fear (5:12)
Collecting Pieces (2:41)
You Can Keep What’s Yours And I Will Keep What’s Mine (4:49)
Someone Who Moves My Feet (4:23)
Love Me Quietly (4:07)
First Class Suicide (4:58)
Your Girl (5:07)
Cigarettes And Wine (7:55)
As the American jazz scene continues to dull, gathering its many shriveled variants into one bucket (labeled New York City), the International Jazz Scene continues to grow, producing new and exciting talent each year—from the Netherlands to Australia, the “most American art form” is finding vital restoration overseas. Anna Luca is one such act, a Swedish/German singer/songwriter and veteran of Nu jazz act Club Des Belugas. Listen and Wait marks her first solo effort, an incredibly luminous and variegated work. She sings of one-night-stands, wanderlust, love, loss and even suicide.
Nujazz is a peculiar terminology, more of an adjective than a proper noun but has its roots in fusion—Lounge, Samba, Swing, Soul, Bossa Nova—almost anything goes, as long as it’s blended into one cohesive performance. Here the arrangements wind and steam, at who’s command is anybody’s best guess—but to hail the album ‘jazz’ seems a misnomer. This isn’t some highbrow putdown about what is and isn’t jazz—there’s nothing unimpressive about the musical talents of Luca and band—but it all seems a little too sing-songy to be coincidence. In that sense her work is more in the tradition of her idol Billie Holliday, a confessionary singer/songwriter whose compositions are palatable enough to be Pop but smack of something all her own.
From the vibraphone and giddy drums of opener “Beautiful Dawn,” it feels like stumbling into the middle of an album, such is the briskness in which it commences. The production quality is raw, warm and clean; acoustic guitars, shimmering keys and sunny grooves. According to her website, it was recorded in two days at E-Sound in Amsterdam. If it was done in a few takes, it’s the tight feel of the band that holds it all together. And yet, there’s some veritable quirkiness to the recordings. Luca’s accent is just bad enough to be endearing—this in contrast with her startling command of English idioms provides for quite the giggle. She’s an awfully gifted singer and seems to be having a ball. There is an even-handed honesty to her voice, honesty and conviction and she can vary her tone from bright and milky to the crackling sizzle of a whisper in a turn.
But there are times when the lyricism gets genuinely uncomfortable. When she sings, “I want to be the one who whispers in your ear, ‘Everything is going to be alright.’” in “Your Girl” it comes a little too close for comfort, even creepy in a way. Luca’s degree of experience conveyed in “Cigarettes and Wine” like “Everytime I try to start the day with gymnastics, to practice my scales.” makes her seem like a character straight out of “The Sound of Music”. Anna stems her blunt honesty from confessionality—of a long-festering love or even of detestation, “You really make me wanna hit you so hard” (“First Class Suicide”) creating a brand of music that’s at once loveable and odd.
Listen and Wait is a pop record, ambitious and unfulfilled. When the artist sings on the title track, “I need to calm down myself, and learn to listen and wait,” one can’t help but wonder if she’s heeding her own advice. The album is a bold first step into new territory for Anna Luca, it may take some time to find out just where she’s landed, where she’s going.
by Taylor Cowan