The disc’s charismatic title The Subject Tonight is Love goes hand in glove with the evocative repertoire, its dream-like atmospherics and its whimsical, floating pace. In all of these things nothing would have been even remotely possible were it not for the exquisite, high-sprung voice of Kate McGarry, not to mention the exquisitely sensitive accompaniment of Keith Ganz and Gary Versace, of course. All three musicians share a complete sureness in their respective musical identities – especially Miss McGarry is absolutely breathtaking, with no gimmicky effects, no quotations from the past, just going to the poetic essence of the lyrics at hand.
The music is drawn from a myriad meditations and musings on love, which might be commonplace by anyone else, but not this trio, who use a spare manner in personal, candid and almost emotionally nude ways that examine abandonment, togetherness, heartbreak and blissfulness. Some moments have cinematic shifts in instrumental colour as Miss McGarry’s lyric lines veer between imaginations to an almost dream-like state and go from the crepuscular to bleach-out sunlight. But what sets The Subject Tonight is Love temperamentally apart from anything even remotely this good is songs such as the eponymous entitled “Prologue…”
This exquisite chart lands in the angular, rhythmically breathtaking world of Keatsian odes and then morphs into hybrid jazzy-folksy, poetic evocations of romance. Moreover, swathed in the diaphanous, silken-voiced utterances of Kate McGarry’s voice the explorations have a needle-sharp poignancy and and fuzzy seduction which finds impossible to resist emotionally-speaking. The singer is in her best voice for “Secret Love”, “Playing Palhaço” and “Indian Summer”, sometimes digging into her lower range with great effect but also resorting to breathy mannerisms to characterise the romantic visions at hand. These mannerisms are wholly effective in her ability to meld evanescent innocence and worldly-wise romance.
Kate McGarry belongs to a singing camp that is tone-heavy in nature and also makes skilful use of sonority. Best of all, she is a miniaturist and because of this she is able to convey a breathtaking sweep of emotions in a very small lyrical space; sometimes even in just one phrase. You can hear this all over “My Funny Valentine”, where she seems everywhere at once, with hypnotic and rhapsodic effect. This song alone is worth the price of the disc. However, as a collection, it’s one to absolutely die for…
Track list – 1: Prologue: The Subject Tonight Is Love; 2: Secret Love; 3: Climb Down/Whiskey You’re the Devil; 4: Gone with the Wind; 5: Fair Weather; 6: Playing Palhaço; 7: Losing Strategy, #4; 8: My Funny Valentine; 9: Mr. Sparkle/What a Difference a Day Made; 10: She Always Will/The River; 11: Indian Summer; 12: Epilogue: All You Need Is Love
Personnel – Kate McGarry: vocals and piano (4); Keith Ganz: acoustic and electric guitar, acoustic bass guitar and drums (12); Gary Versace: piano, keyboard, organ, accordion; Ron Miles: trumpet (12); Obed Calvaire: drums (Whiskey You’re the Devil)
Released – 2018
Label – Binxtown Records
Runtime – 1:00:33