…the music conveys depth and richness that is equal to Diratz’s spell-binding delivery.

DISCUS MUSIC 169CD

Carla Diratz: voice, keyboard; Martin Archer: saxophones, clarinets, keyboards, electronics; Nick Robinson: guitars; Adam Fairhall: organ, electric piano; Dave Sturt: bass guitar; Adam Fairclough: drums; Charlotte Keeffe: trumpet

One of the many exciting properties of Martin Archer’s Discus label is that way that he can persuade major artists to drop in and record an album or two. On this release we have a peerless French chanteuse surrounded by a band sympathetic to her emotion and energy. For anyone who has not previously experienced Diratz’s approach to singing or lyrics, this (like the last set from this group, ‘The Scale’ – or her work with the Eclectic Maybe Band on ‘Reflections in a Moebius Ring Mirror’) creates a style of music that blends any style that seems most suitable to emotion intensity of the words and her delivery. On the one hand, Diratz has a style of delivery that is akin to the raw emotional intensity of Portuguese Fado or Spanish Flamenco, where the singing wrings every last ounce of feeling from songs of love and loss. On the other hand, she has an approach to delivery that takes the French Torch song tradition and liquidises this to into a rich syrup that is poured liberally over the music.

The strongest songs in the set, like ‘A peak at night’, track 5, have the directness of a rock song in its descending chord pattern, albeit with surreal lyrics and squalling trumpet. Indeed, the album’s genesis was in the desire to create a blues album. The songs have a sense of 12-bars but the lyrics and the musicians keep bursting out of the constraints that this imposes to create a prog-rock, modern jazz extrapolation to something individual, unique and unsurpassable (until their next album, no doubt). On track 2, ‘Consumed’, she sings ‘Time has consumed the shadow of my steps’, this mood of (mis)remembering a life well-lived – in all its hopes, disillusions, excitement, and loss – in which, according to track 11, ‘I’m a drifter’, she sings ‘I’ve seen every city and town’. In track 12, ‘Places I’ve been’, this life is not without moments of lightness and darkness and, as an autobiography (either of the singer or the character that is sung about in these songs), the music conveys depth and richness that is equal to Diratz’s spell-binding delivery.