Sharny Russell album


(Treasure House Music)


Comes-A-Time-Cover-1-500x500Does where a musician lives affect the music that he or she makes? The evidence comes down pretty thoroughly in the affirmative: compare the ponderousness of Russian opera with the flightiness of French, or the intensity of New York jazz in the 1950s with the airiness of the West Coast variant. Sharny Russell lives on the North Coast of New South Wales, and it is not much of a stretch to hear something of a breezier lifestyle and even a little sun and surf in the way she goes about writing her songs and singing them. You hear it in a certain blitheness of tone and approach.

The fact that she recorded this album in Sydney with musicians from that city did nothing to cloud the sunniness in her voice; a quality especially prominent when she improvises. Russell’s scatting never feels laboured, instead having an appealing effortlessness, as though it rides on a natural updraft emanating from the song and the surrounding playing. Much the same could be said of her song-writing, although, perhaps inevitably, some pieces are stronger than others, with Lara, Flowers and The Key the three that compromise the high quality established by the rest; songs that could have been dropped without the album becoming too short. Russell also includes four standards, including a striking a capella rendition of Stella By Starlight.

Unsurprisingly her voice and piano playing are well served by a core band of Paul Cutlan on reeds, Brendan Clarke on bass and Gordon Rytmeister on drums.