Petra Haden and Bill Frisell | Alison Moyet
These two discs--one fronted by a third of That Dog, the other by half of Yaz--share in common only their fondness for other people's songs; of the 23 between them only two are originals, and they're on the Haden-Frisell disc, the more novel of the two collections, anyway. Frisell, the jazz-"world music"-etc. guitarist more about mood than melody these days, does for Haden what he did for Costello nine years ago--fluffs the pillow upon which the performer with the little girl's voice lays her head to sing winsome lullabies, among them Elliott Smith, Coldplay (a blue "Yellow"), George and Ira Gerswhin, Stevie Wonder, trad folk tunes ("John Hardy was a Desperate Little Man"), Tuvan tracks and Foo Fighters (!) selections ushered into a dreamland of multi-tracked harmonies and violin parts that make a single instrument sound like a string section.
Alison Moyet, following the masterpiece (2002's Hometime) no one noticed, keeps it more old-fashioned. The old new-waver's making music for moms now, or at least my mom, who'll love Alf's renditions of movie tunes "Windmills of Your Mind" and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" more than I ever could or you ever should. Backed by an orchestra that sounds like it's scoring a Miramax weeper, Moyet sounds more at home nicking from contemporaries like Costello than finding her way inside busy Bizet and gooey-in-her-hands Gershwin. She doesn't own the songs, which come off like they're just renting her till they can find a proper home.
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