Jazz editor Tony Andrews writes:
I woke very early this morning with a purpose in mind. I normally get woken most mornings by my pussy cat DeeLee howling for attention but this morning I was up before she could start the howling process. My reason for the early start was to listen to Stories and Lies the new CD from Catherine Lima.
I had attended the CD Launch Concert the previous evening and to be perfectly honest I could not believe what I had heard. I needed to hear the CD to confirm I wasn’t all just a dream. I would have put the CD on as soon as I got home from the concert but it was past midnight and the journey home through torrential rain was so tiring. The launch was held at The Arts Cinema, Crouch End in North London - the local Arts Centre and highly appreciated by local patrons and those beyond.
The venue was fully booked with many celebrities from the music industry in attendance. Most were the devoted fans who follow Catherine from venue to venue.
I was invited to review the launch concert but, I have to confess, that I class myself as Catherine's number one fan so there will be some bias to this review. The concert started with one of my favourite songs of all time A Taste of Honey and this was very apt because Catherine has a voice which is like listening to ….. honey. It’s so rich but smooth with a unique texture which is so enticing.
I have heard Catherine perform at so many different venues, including outdoor concerts, and her voice can penetrate any environment because it is so very movingly soulful yet in Jazz style. This is the first time that I have heard her as a songwriter. Her efforts show all the signs of a fabulous career ahead. The first set included the songs Stories and Lies and Ode to Carolina - both written by Catherine.
These are not so much songs but poetry put to music with such skill beyond any newcomer to song writing that I have ever encountered. The first set also included a song that always brings tears to my eyes. I Can't Make You Love Me was written for Bonny Raitt but made famous by the wonderful George Michael. Catherine exceeds any version I have heard and this song suits her voice perfectly.
The Second Set include two more of Catherine's own songs Gatsby and Bathsheba's Lament.
The inspiration for these songs are the works of literature The Great Gatsby and Far From The Madding Crowd. Once again not so much as songs but poetry put to music and anyone who can write lyrics like these has a very rare talent. Catherine also include a song Love Again written by another exceptionally skillful songwriter Brian Shaw who was in the audience to support Catherine and to hear his song performed.
I have extolled the virtues of Catherine Lima but this concert could not have happened without the stellar band behind her which included Paul Higgs on Piano, Graham Pike on Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Chromatic Harmonica and Alex Field on Guitar. The Rhythm Section of Alex Keen on Double Bass and Marek Dorcik completed the band who were exceptional in their support for her.
I am sure the reason for this is that they all enjoy working with Catherine. For them, it isn’t “just a job”. This was confirmed after talking with them after the concert. I think by now you must have it firmly in mind just how good Catherine Lima is in my opinion and I am alleged to be an ‘expert’ in the female jazz singer genre.
Anyway, she excelled in every way. I am thrilled for her because I know just how much effort has been put in to the compilation of the material on this recording and the songwriting. The concept of Stories and Lies was to tell a story of the experiences of Catherine's life from personal experiences and from her love of literature and music.
I have to give credit to Paul Higgs for his contribution to this CD as Musical Director and his skill as recording engineer. The recording quality could not in my view be exceeded even it had been recorded at Abbey Road.
The atmosphere captured is like listening to a live performance in an intimate venue. I have a vast collection of Audiophile CD's and this compares with the best such as Cafe Blue by Patricia Barber; yes, it’s that good!
My only advice to anyone reading this review is to go an buy Stories and Lies. You’ll be thrilled. I can almost guarantee it.