By Brian Morton | Published December 2020
In an interview from several years ago significantly titled “Going Beyond Categorization,” Brianna Thomas talks about her sense of song already being present and simply happening upon it. That might also apply to her own songcraft, in which she already has escaped genre categorization. But a very different impression forms when you hear her doing “My Foolish Heart,” “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie” or even something as wholly owned as “Mississippi Goddam” on this, her second album. It isn’t so much that the vocalist personalizes these old tunes, or in the case of the Simone song, one so utterly identified with its creator. It’s more that she gives the impression of inventing the song in the moment, as if it’s never been done before. And Thomas does this without bending the material out of shape, deconstructing or détourning it.
Her pacing on “My Foolish Heart” is deliberate and thoughtful, making the lyric resonate in new ways. She even seems to hint at Bill Evans’ classic solo, imbuing a deeper and more melancholy air. And when she takes on “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying,” the soft edges of her delivery lend a new legato elegance to slight material. To be able to deliver that, as well as Lil Johnson’s “My Stove’s In Good Condition,” without a hint of tongue-in-cheek, bespeaks an artist who’s comfortable in just about every aspect of the tradition. And one who can add to it with instant classics like “How Much Forgiveness” and “I Belong To You.”
Everybody Knows: Since I Fell For You; How Much Forgiveness; It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie; My Foolish Heart; Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying; I Belong To You; My Stove’s In Good Condition; Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues; Mississippi Goddam; The More I See You. (61:14)
Personnel: Brianna Thomas, Brian Bacchus, Fran Cathcart, Gail Boyd, Samantha Cartagena, Marvin Arias-Vasquez, Kurt Hendricksen, Jake Kukaska, Dan Offner vocals; Connun Pappas, piano, vocals; Marvin Sewell, guitar, vocals; Ryan Berg, bass, vocals; Kyle Poole, drums, vocals; Fernando Saci, percussion, vocals.