Julia Fordham's slight stature doesn't prepare you for what happens when she opens her mouth. Her husky alto is at once unexpected and beguiling. It's this unique voice that's drawn storied producers and musicians to the British expatriate's side throughout her career. Hugh Padgham (Phil Collins, Sting, Paul McCartney) produced 1992's Porcelain with his signature precision, and Joe Henry, India.Arie and organist Billy Preston provided textural counterpoint on 2002's Concrete Love. Fordham's latest, That's Live, is shaped by former Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman cohort Larry Klein. On the new album, Klein keeps the vibe smooth and simple, letting Fordham's voice take control to the point of almost making the otherwise top-rate musical accompaniment incidental. The result is a relaxing glide through organic and soulful tunes like "Jump" and "Sugar" that are equally sensual and playful. It's a vocal showcase that should translate well to the Tea Room's intimate stage.
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