It is not recent news that Jay Clayton is one of the most phenomenal vocalists in creative improvised music. What she offers in terms of flexibility, diversity, durability, and keen originality sets a high standard for all other “singers.” This solo recording has Clayton in her usual mode of combining lyrics with wordless vocals in her own ethereal way, while adding spoken prose, poetry, and an electronic palate to the proceedings. The result is unlike any other vocal recording you might have ever heard this side of Urszula Dudziak, Grazyna Auguscik, or maybe the more experimental side of Joni Mitchell. What Clayton brings to the table is pure elegiac savvy, an earth mother’s wisdom, a siren’s sensuality, and a challenged soul. There are many examples here of her chemical alchemy; using her voice as a dumbek during “Love Is a Place,” evoking ghostly atmospheric spirits for the title track, or speaking of creationism via “God’s big breath” on “Why, Because.” Her multi-tracked voice on “Sometimes” evokes Native American motifs, and her heartfelt association with Sheila Jordan. She exclaims “sometimes I think/I’m not so sure/I know I don’t/really want to/just don’t care/ought to know”. Then, as most would expect for “Free Me,” after an overdubbed counterpoint and sampled mbira in modal 7/7 time, she is wanting to sing like the birds “not worrying about who hears, or what they think”. The all spoken “Let It Go” is most prosaic, “Secrets of Living” a scatted child’s song with the sweetest of harmony lines, and “No Words, Only a Feeling” actually has lyrics rendered in an underlying dark tone in an amazing display of multiple techniques and sonics that are simple and complex, elegant and playful, and deeply profound. Of the many excellent projects Jay Clayton has offered, this is her very best effort, one that comes highly recommended, and lifts the art of improvisational vocal music to a new level. It’s near perfect. – Michael G. Nastosmore »
The Peace Of Wild Things
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