The prime pleasure of this disc Walkin’ By The River is Marty Elkins’ silvery beauty of tone in the thirteen songs where she takes the dominant top line as the music of New Orleans and the American South comes alive. ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby’ and the dozen other songs, especially ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made’ are typical of this territory, where blues and swing blend into appealing melodies with adventurous harmonies. The two voices of Elkins and trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso move in delicious harmonies, gently overlapping with answering phrases. And although Marty Elkins never seems to stretch her sultry mezzo always seems to enter a more imaginative realm every time she advances the song.
Marty Elkins’ approach to this music and to its characters is less defined by role-playing than by deep feeling and slow-burning intensity. If there are a few blips – some wavering in tone, the odd frayed note – the quality of the instrument: her voice and the artistry which with it is used are never in doubt. It reinforces the timeless nature of the repertoire. This is established in the first of this loose collection of songs. These blooms, plucked from the heart of swing country also have narrative thorns and Elkins navigates them with absolute aplomb proving herself to be a storyteller par excellence. And so The singer finds not only lovesick headiness but also deep wistfulness and even dramatic gloom particularly in in the setting of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin’ and ‘Ill Wind’.
The whole repertoire is negotiated with equal poise and concentration reinforced by the accompaniment of Kellso, Howard Alden, Joel Diamond et al. The instrumental accompaniment by all is a masterpiece of light and shade, sadness and jollity, jealousy and gaiety. Throughout Marty Elkins allows the lyricists’ moody impulsiveness to dissipate, underplaying both the protagonists’ petulance and the arrival of understanding in the dénouements of each song. The recording too is a masterpiece and captures every nuance of beautifully-played instruments making Walkin’ By The River a true keeper.
Track List: If I Could Be With You; Runnin’ Wild; Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby; Garbage Can Blues; When My Sugar Walks Down The Street; Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin’; There’s Be Some Changes Made; Down To Steamboat Tennessee; Comes Love; Ill Wind; I’ll Never Be The Same; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; Walkin’ By The River.
Personnel: Mart Elkins: vocals; Jon-Erik Kellso: trumpet; Howard Alden; guitar; Joel Diamond: Hammond C3 Organ; Steve Ash: piano; Lee Hudson: bass; Taro Okamoto: drums.
Label: Nagel Heyer
Release date: April 2016
Running time: 1:00:09
Buy album on: amazon