By Carlo Wolff | Published June 2020
A collection of songs about loss and empowerment, Laila Biali’s Out Of Dust is melodic, catchy and personal. More pop than jazz, it seems cathartic, a way for the Vancouver-based vocalist to move beyond sorrow over the death of a good friend, fear for her own fragility and anxiety about the world. Biali would rather celebrate.
The album spans the prairie folk strains of “Wendy’s Song,” the amusing funk of “Sugar” and “Take Me To The Alley,” a Gregory Porter tune. With the exception of “Revival,” a call to arms against political suppression, and the dreamy “Alpha Waves,” Biali’s songs tell stories elegantly and efficiently. One of the most memorable tunes here is “Au Pays De Cocagne,” an offering distinguished by Biali’s rubato piano and glowing strings. It’s also the most romantic tune on the album, and though it’s in French, it fits right in.
The album’s production is shimmering, the arrangements are lush and Biali’s voice—spanning registers—is pure and warm. She’s also fearless on piano and, above all else, in her imagination.
Out Of Dust: Revival; Monolith; Glass House; Wendy’s Song; Sugar; Alpha Waves; Au Pays De Cocagne; Take Me To The Alley; The Baker’s Daughter; Broken Vessels; Take The Day Off. (49:23)
Personnel: Laila Biali, vocals, piano; Rich Brown, electric bass; George Koller, bass; Glenn Patscha, organ; John Ellis, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Alan Ferber, trombone; Remy Le Boeuf, alto saxophone, flute; Godwin Louis, soprano saxophone; Mike “Maz” Maher, trumpet; Dennis Collins, Adam Thomas, Lisa Fischer, Michelle Willis, Jo Lawry, vocals; Lydia Munchinsky, cello; Shannon Knights, viola; Drew Jurecka, Rebekah Wolkstein, violin; Larnell Lewis, drums.