WHERE OR WHEN
Singer Kristin Berardi has released two very different albums almost simultaneously. Hope in My Pocket, a collaboration with pianist Sean Foran and tenor saxophonist Rafael Karlen, features original material based on the letters of WWI soldiers, their sadness and yearning underpinning songs rendered with a restrained formality. Where Or When draws out Berardi’s more playful, overtly jazzier side. At her best she achieves a lighter-than-air quality, her voice dancing blithely across the melodies, as happens on the title track. Yet when she turns this lightness and innate prettiness upon a deeper lyric, as on Cohen’s Suzanne, she achieves a singular poignancy specifically by not trying too hard to dredge the words for meaning. The repertoire mixes standards and originals, and, as with Hope in My Pocket, a mood of restraint is compounded by the absence of drums, her band consisting of Julien Wilson’s tenor, Steve Newcomb’s piano, James Sherlock’s guitar and Sam Anning’s bass. Her own songs here are mostly wordless, which somehow sets her voice on a more equal footing to perform its enchanting dances in dialogue with the other instruments.