Christine Tobin ‘A thousand kisses deep’ (Trail Belle) 4/5

Christine-TobinDublin born, but now London resident singer Christine Tobin has built up an impressive reputation for interpreting unusual singer-songwriter material and transposing it into the jazz idiom. Poetic writers ripe for interpretation have included her fellow Irish writer W.B. Yeats on the excellent album ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ and Brill Building graduate Carole King extraordinaire on ‘Tapestry Unveiled’. For her latest musical foray, Tobin has wisely chosen the songs of Leonard Cohen and this serves as a tribute to the Canadian who, in 2014, celebrates his eightieth year on the planet. What really impresses is the thought that has gone into the re-workings with a bold and wholly successful attempt to convey the melancholy of the originals by recasting the songs in a variety of jazz, blues and Brazilian musical settings. The latter is represented on the title track which conjurs up one of the more intimate beaches in Rio and on gentle the bossa-flavoured ‘Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye’, whereas ‘Tower of song’ here acquires a downbeat blues feel with the song interestingly ending with the famous riff from Miles’ ‘In a silent way/It’s about that time’, which is a lovely deft touch. A world roots feel invades the accordion and guitar led ‘Suzanne’ with creative use of Brazilian percussion from Adriano Adewale. The album ends on a fine note with some Chet Baker-inflected trumpet courtesy of guest musician Nick Smart (pianist Gwilym Simcock guests elsewhere on the album) on ‘Dance me to the end of love’ with some intricate guitar work from Phil Robson. Christine Tobin even engages in some scatting on ‘Everybody knows’. A musician at the peak of her creative powers on this thrilling evidence. Tim Stenhouse