By James Hale | Published May 2019
Can you dig a vocalist even if the tone of their voice doesn’t sit well in your ear? It’s a question I considered while listening to Laurie Antonioli’s seventh album. While the scope and sources of her material are broad, and she brings her own vision to much of the material by writing her own lyrics, the timbre of her voice sometimes is jarring.
It goes directly to the question of what makes a singer connect with a listener. Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is a song where some people bail on his nasal delivery and shaky intonation, but Antonioli’s voice brings its own sour quality to her version. Similarly, she seems to have consistency issues on some of the notes she chooses to hold. But, like Young famously said once, “That’s my sound, man.”
It’s easier to get onboard with Antonioli’s delivery of a propulsive version of Sheryl Crow’s “Riverwide,” which includes attractive tabla work by drummer Jason Lewis and an energetic solo by guitarist Dave MacNab. She also glides through three Joni Mitchell songs—a seamless medley of “Harry’s House” and “The Arrangement,” and “Love”—continuing the devotion she expressed to the songwriter on her 2014 album Songs Of Shadow, Songs Of Light (Origin). Best of all is the pairing of her voice with Sheldon Brown’s bass clarinet on the evocative “Moonbirds.”
A sturdy LP-length recording, The Constant Passage Of Time illustrates Antonioli’s passion for her work, and the joy she exudes flows through her voice, whatever the listener might make of the sound itself.
The Constant Passage Of Time: Longing For You; Riverwide; Layla; Moonbirds; Harry’s House/The Arrangement; Love; Highway; And So It Is; Don’t Let It Bring You Down. (41:17)
Personnel: Laurie Antonioli, vocals; Sheldon Brown, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone; Dave MacNab, guitar; Matt Clark, piano; Dan Feiszli, bass; Jason Lewis, drums, tabla.