sun 16/12/2018

CD: Jennifer Warnes - Another Time, Another Place | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jennifer Warnes - Another Time, Another Place

CD: Jennifer Warnes - Another Time, Another Place

Crossing musical boundaries

After 17 years away, a notable return

Many will remember Jennifer Warnes as the backing vocalist on a mighty handful of Leonard Cohen albums, and from his touring bands – she was on the 1972 and ’79 European jaunts. The latter was in support of Recent Songs, mocked at the time for its painting-by-numbers sleeve and for just about everything else. For Cohen had become a figure of some derision (punk rock et al has much to answer for) and was as unhip and irrelevant as it was then possible to be. The notorious Phil Spector collaboration hadn’t helped.

The ’79 London concert lives on in my memory still (and not just because I interviewed him the next day). The musicians really cooked, and I remember appreciating Warnes's vocals and shortly thereafter buying her album of Cohen covers, Famous Blue Raincoat – or “Jenny sings Lenny” – by which time she’d enjoyed a massive hit with “Up Where We Belong”, with Joe Cocker.

Warnes is now 70 but the voice is as mellifluous as ever on this, her first album in 17 years. Recording of Another Time, Another Place began in 2015, at the suggestion of Roscoe Beck, Cohen’s bassist and musical director and thus an old friend. During that time, she’s been visited by loss far too many times – family, friends and, in 2016, Cohen himself. The music, she says, kept her occupied during a period of unimaginable grief yet there is nothing downcast about the album, though our shared mortality is acknowledged: “Yes I understand/Every life must end/As we sit alone/I know someday we must go” she sings in “Just Breathe”, the opening track.

“I wanted these songs to be useful and functional,” Warnes says, “especially in the precarious times we are living in.” The entire outing is a delight in large part because it crosses back and forth across musical boundaries: soft rock, bluesy, country-inflected (some very nice pedal steel and resonator guitar) and other songs that take us into Nelson Riddle territory – Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz’s 1930s number “I See Your Face Before Me” is beautiful, lush strings and woodwind, a memorable guitar solo. “The Big Easy”, Ray Bonneville’s homage to the spirit of New Orleans, is another highlight. Only one song, “The Boys and Me”, is a Warnes original.

Lenny would surely approve.

Liz Thomson's website

The music kept her occupied during a period of unimaginable grief yet there is nothing downcast about the album, though our shared mortality is acknowledged

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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