By Michele L. Simms-Burton | Published April 2020
Sam Tru’s debut, Cycle, offers up a persistent theme of unrequited love, harmonies that entertain the ear, an excellent band and an Amy Winehouse-sounding mournfulness that overlays the eight tunes here. Five of the tracks are co-written or written by jazz vocalist Jeff Baker, which might account for the album’s seeming sameness—not only in motif but in its sound.
Because love is among the dominating features of human existence, the substrata that undergirds, undermines and ameliorates it makes for good lyrics. They’re just uneven on Tru’s album. Nonetheless, she carries the
uptempo title track like a pro, with the influence of Winehouse remaining most apparent. The engaging nature of that composition ultimately isn’t carried through the rest of the album. The band, though, rides high on its own, Justin Nielsen’s organ and piano playing on “Just Fine” adding church- and r&b-like timbres to the song. It rocks and rolls, summons the holy ghost and allows Tru space to get down. Let the congregation say, “Amen.”
The conventions of jazz really aren’t readily apparent across Cycle. Regardless of the tack, though, on future recordings Tru hopefully will have some stronger material to work with.
Cycle: Cycle; Not Enough Liquor; Just Fine; Let Me Down Easy; So Far Away; Paradise; Please Don’t Go; Wheel. (37:41)
Personnel: Sam Tru, vocals; Gregory Uhlmann, guitars; Justin Nielsen, piano, organ; Clark Sommers, bass; Matt Carroll, drums.