Plus Loin Music PL4528
Recognized for writing and delivering songs of exquisite beauty and depth, Kellylee Evans is a perfect example of musical honesty in its purest form. Several years back, the sweet-voiced Ottawa-based singer-songwriter was summoned to France to record an album for the Plus Loin label. “They said I could do whatever I wanted as long as it was standards”, Evans recalls. She decided to dedicate the recording to Nina Simone, selecting a dozen songs famously cut by The High Priestess of Soul. Talk about a challenging undertaking! Simone – who began playing Bach as a toddler – was a legendary pianist, vocalist, composer and civil rights advocate, one of the 20th century’s most important (and arguably, underrated) musical geniuses; in her 70 years on earth she forged an unmistakable style fused with classical, jazz, pop, rock, folk and her own originals. The impressive results demonstrate Evans’ impeccable taste.
It was a wise decision not to include keys on the recording, as Simone was incomparable as a pianist. Instead, Evans is joined by shining Chicagoan Marvin Sewell on guitars and two of France’s finest sidemen, François Moutin on bass and André Ceccarelli on drums. What makes this recording shine is how freshly these songs are re-imagined. Whereas Simone’s gritty voice was dramatically fuelled by anguish, Evans’ interpretation of the same material scintillates with a pure, soulful optimism. Here’s hoping this outstanding effort earns new fans for both Kellylee Evans and Nina Simone.