Album Reviews

Kurt Elling

Passion World

Artist:     Kurt Elling

Album:     Passion World

Label:     Concord Records

Release Date:     06/09/2015

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Constantly on the road, jazz singer Kurt Elling has harvested passions from around the world and channeled them into his eleventh studio album, Passion World.

Elling takes us through Scotland, France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Cuba and Brazil, showcasing his vocal diversity through varying jazz traditions. His driving vocals are effortlessly yearning, with his voice delicately wrapping around the rich instrumentation and soothing arrangements. The highly romanticised cover of “La Vie En Rose” carries a luscious array of warm brass balanced out by a distinctive bass line, with Elling’s clean-cutting vocals focusing our attention in the multitude of sounds.

Throughout the album, Elling portrays moods of heartache, mournful contemplation, joy, spoken-thoughts and desperation through his controlled enunciation and gentle vibrato, never over-singing these contrasting passions of love.

“Loch Tay Boat Song” stands out with its comforting arrangement, supporting Elling’s expression of a young lover’s hopefulness; the saxophone solo draws out the essence of this Scottish folk-song, drifting in and out of focus like a gentle reminisce of past love, echoed by Elling’s soft humming. More sensuously, “Si Te Contara” offers an intense sexual contrast, with his throwaway phrases and proud vocal tone, to “The Tangled Road,” which is a submissive, light-hearted confession accompanied by unresting drum rhythms.

Passion World beautifully and successfully encapsulates a variety of contrasting emotions, with Elling’s expression uniting these different jazz traditions with his vulnerable, riveting yet assured vocal delivery.

– Jason Kwan

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