03_Halie_JorenHeart First
Halie Loren
Justin Time JTR 8573-2

Singer Halie Loren’s Heart First is what I think of as get-out-the-hammock music. The evocation of lazy hours on the porch in a sultry locale hasn’t so much to do with the origins of the recording — Loren and crew are based in Eugene, Oregon — as with the easy, back-pocket singing style and lightly swinging support of the band. Gifted with a sometimes breathy, sometimes throaty and always gorgeous voice, comparisons to Norah Jones are unavoidable. I even hear a bit of Aaron Neville in the way Loren plays with the break in her voice, in particular on her pretty take of Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain. It’s in these covers of newer standards and remakes of pop hits that the disc shines brightest, but Loren’s own songs fit in cozily with the classics and overall breeziness. The only time Heart First even comes close to what could be described as edgy is on the reharmonized All of Me, which cleverly blends tremolo guitar (William Seiji Marsh), malleted drums (Brian West) and a minor key for a Willie Nelson-goes-voodoo kind of vibe. Loren also occasionally unleashes a bit of French and Spanish to kick up the sex appeal a notch, but not so much to make you fall out of your hammock.

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