|Strategy over Artistry?
by Andy Frank February 2006
Dripping Indigo is Québec-born Chantal Chamberlands third Jazz CD release. It features many of the same players found on her previous releases Serendipity Street and This is Our Time and employs a similar formula. Jazz standards and popular songs like the Bee Gees How Deep is Your Love populate the majority of the CD, and a pair of numbers sung in Ms. Chamberlands native French add a distinct flavour to the musical offering.
Her low, breathy single-malt vocals and piano-intensive accompaniment inevitably lead me to compare her work with Diana Kralls, and my initial reaction is similar to the one I feel when listening to Ms. Krall: Nice dinner music.
When I listen more closely, however, three aspects of the recording stand out. The musicianship is superb throughout the CD, there is a distinct French accent evident in Chantal Chamberlands English voice, and the two French songs (and her French singing) are absolutely spectacular!
I remain undecided as to whether or not the French inflection in her English songs is a charm or an annoyance, and that decision will remain in the ear of the beholder. Someday is truly an exceptional track, as Chantal Chamberland departs from the smoky renditions, and adds a welcome little Patsy Cline quiver to her delivery.
What strikes me most when listening to Chantal Chamberlands Dripping Indigo is the massive difference in energy, confidence and range when comparing her English and French products. There appear to be two singers present on this CD, and I would pay top dollar to listen to the French one anytime, anywhere, live or recorded.
Like Céline Dion, Chantal Chamberlands artists soul is abundantly evident and accessible in French, much less so in English. However, I am puzzled to see no evidence of French-exclusive work listed on her websites discography. Maybe the market for French Language Jazz CDs is weak hence, the ride on the Krall Train but Chantal Chamberland is exactly the kind of gifted artist that could blow it wide open.