Time, Seasons and the Moon – Neil Tesser, The Reader, Vol. 29, No. 50
Chicago singer Linda Tate has a voice like buckwheat honey: sweet but with substance, and just a little dark. It lends a distinct flavor to everything on her newly released second disc, Time, Seasons and the Moon (Southport), from the knowing nostalgia of “September in the Rain” to the innocent satisfaction of Steve Swallow’s “Falling Grace” to the quiet passion of “I Concentrate on You” to the voluptuous dreaminess of “Moonlight in Vermont.” Tate’s inviting timbre also carried the day on her debut album, We Belong Together, but in the four years since it came out, she’s begun to blossom as a stylist. She sings with a hard-earned confidence that informs her attack, her interpretation of the lyrics, and especially her few but wisely chosen bursts of improvisation. She doesn’t scat much, and when she does, she tends to use the technique the way an arranger uses a horn riff or woodwinds fill – to bridge a pause in the melody, not to replace the melody altogether. She occasionally accomplishes something similar with “vocal percussion” – wordless syllables and breath-driven sounds used for rhythmic rather than melodic purposes. In addition, she’s got a terrific ear, exacting intonation, and a burgeoning talent for framing her material in simple but memorable arrangements. Time, Seasons and the Moon is one of the better albums made in Chicago this year, and many of the musicians who figure prominently on it – including violinist Johnny Frigo, pianist Brad Williams, guitarist Curtis Robinson, and bassist Jim Cox – will be on hand to herald its arrival at this free, unusually early CD-release party. Drummer Charlie Braugham rounds out the lineup. Saturday, 1 PM, Andy’s, 11 E. Hubbard; 312-642-6805.