The time of lounge jazz singers has post for most, but not for actress, singer-songwriter Heather Powell. Her second album, A Haze of Grays and Blue released February 24, 2014 and slows things down to a calm and nostalgic tempo for the length of ten tracks. Does the album feel new enough to freshen the genre or does it fall for the same faults as past artists?
Powell grew up with the stage in sight. Starting with choir, she would later experience the stage through community theatre and develop that relationship more deeply over the years. She would later graduate from the College of William and Mary of Virginia with a degree in Theatre while simultaneously being an ROTC graduate. For the next seven years Powell would experience stages across the globe, she even became headliner and commander of the Army’s inaugural theatrical company.
“Take my own advice and go with the unexpected night.”
The albums starts of magnificently. The track Unexpected is playful and starts things off hopefully. Accompanying percussion and drums add great emphasis in the most powerful moments as Powell leads the listener into her soothing web. It is obviously apparent how strong a lead Powell is from the very beginning.
The structure and cadence of Powell’s lyrics are sometimes hit or miss. Black and White thinking for example uses multiple intertwining rhyming schemes while tracks like Wishing are more simplistic and feel like they could have come from a Disney princess movie.
Some instances of the album feature the band too afraid to take the spotlight away from Powell, their best synergy is when they step up and add another energy. The third track, I Remember the Love features male vocals which are excellently well placed. Keeping up with Powell’s perfect pitch and elegant tempo is no easy task, which is why this track stands out so strongly on the album.
The second half of the album has less accompanying musical strength and relies more on Powell, which is not a problem due to how natural she sounds with a mic. However, these tracks still pale in comparison to the more enthused tracks earlier in the album. A flare of variety would truly suit Powell as she seems skilled enough to run with a different singing cadence, but this would also require the accompanying band to mix it up.
The album cover appropriately represents the atmosphere the album sticks to. Falling rain, an unmanned piano, and one individual still dry with standing microphone in hand. The simplistic font tends to not distract from the focus of Powell, as is the reflection of the accompanying band.
“Gotta stop wishing for what this is not.”
Heather Powell is undoubtedly a beautiful singer and her lyrical structure is nothing to shake a finger at, but her lack of wide genre variety lumps her into a bit of a musical slump. A duo between her and another strong singer would likely lead to a thoroughly stellar experience. Still, a night drive or walk would have no quarrels being accompanied by an album as nostalgic and soothing as A Haze of Grays and Blue.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.