Album Review: Nicky Schrire’s “Freedom Flight”

Personnel:                                                 Nicky Schrire- Vocals
Nick Paul- Piano
Sam Anning- Bass
Jake Goldbas- Drums/Percussion

On select tracks:                                     Paul Jones- Tenor Saxophone
Jay Rattman- Clarinet
Brian Adler- Percussion
Peter Eldridge- Piano

Review by: Steven Lewis

Freedom Flight is vocalist Nicky Schrire’s debut album, but it sounds like the work of a seasoned veteran. Schrire (pronounced shrear-a) has a sweet, clear voice and a great deal of technical agility. Freedom Flight features an eclectic, polyglot repertoire including the Beatles and Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and Loudon Wainwright along with a pair of Schrire’s originals. All of the music on this record combine  these disparate pieces into a style that is unmistakably her own.

She demonstrates skill and creativity not only in her singing, but also in her fine original compositions and arrangements. Clever and understated, they are the highlight of the album; she sets her material in an intimate way that brings out the lyrics meanings with unusual clarity. Particularly effective is Schrire’s duet with clarinetist Jay Rattman on “Me, The Mango Picker,” her overdubbed vocals on “The Swimming Song,” and her wordless vocal behind saxophonist Paul Jones’s solo on “Ode To A Folk Song.” Schrire gives the album’s only standard, a beautifully spare version of Lerner and Loewe’s “If Ever I Would Leave You,” a moving rendition. Her skilled accompanists realize the arrangements with aplomb and provide some outstanding solos—especially Paul Jones’s blistering work on “Folk Song” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”

Photo (c) Shervin Lainez

Freedom Flight comes out May 22, 2012. It is an exceptional debut, and Schrire displays a refreshingly inventive and consistent musical voice while handling a wide variety of material.  There is certainly more quality work to come from this promising young artist.

Nicky Schrire will be performing at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1, Tuesday, May 22, 2012. On June 6, 2012, the band expands, when they celebrate The Freedom Flight Release Party at Cornelia Street Café. For more gigs and other info visit Schrire’s website: www.nickyschrire.com

Steven Lewis is a contributing writer living in Suwanee, GA and Tallahassee, FL.

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