Norma Winstone's new album Dances Without Answer (ECM B0019863-02) has a very definite mood--introspective, looking at what was, what was meant to be and what was not, of hopes deferred, dashed, or kept inside glowing brightly in spite of it all. The British singer has become ever increasingly a story teller. Her lyrics evoke a sadness, an intelligent one, balladic. She delivers them with the nuances of the jazz singer she is. The album has some very good songs--those she co-wrote with various personages or added lyrics to, and some "covers" of songs by Tom Waits, Fred Neil, Nick Drake, etc.
The sparsely open sound is very right for the ECM treatment and the mood of the songs. There's Norma on vocals, Klaus Gesing on bass clarinet and soprano sax, and Glauco Venier on piano. They get an uncanny cantabile sound that places you squarely into the universe of the lyric and sometimes consoling tones. "Find the truth or let the secret die", she sings. And you believe you should. Even if you don't know the full story and fill it in with your own details. In that way this is music minus one--minus you the reflecting, listening being.
It's a good one. It's good company and fine sounds. Lyric and filled with content.