For many of us, love is a dance—a series of careful and cautious steps and movements that span a lifetime and embrace a certain degree of risk. Whether the object of our affection is a romantic interest, a family member or a cherished friend, love is the choreography of the heart.
This popular view of love serves as the foundation for Maria Muldaur's latest Telarc release, Love Wants To Dance. Easygoing and engaging, the album's ten tracks live and breathe in the elusive space between jazz and blues—with various other subtleties tossed in. Whatever the style, the unifying theme throughout the set is that universal force that keeps every human heart beating.
Muldaur's philosophy behind the record is simple and straightforward. "This album could be the soundtrack to a sweet little tropical vacation," she says. "Intimate moments of love, longing for love, invitations to love and mourning lost love...It's all about love. Anybody got a problem with that?"
The album opens with the quiet and wistful "The Lies of Handsome Men," an eternally optimistic take on romantic love, despite the often harsh realities that come with it. Equally optimistic is the slightly uptempo followup, "If Dreams Come True," a track that owes its folksy vibe to the counterpoint of guitarist Daniel Caron and violinist Joe Craven.
Later in the sequence, the sensuous yet vaguely swinging "Moonlight" is reminiscent of Muldaur's 1973 pop hit, "Midnight at the Oasis." She follows with "Lonely Moon," a melancholy invitation to that mysterious and eternal orb in the night sky. Praised for decades as a premier blues singer, Muldaur reconnects to her roots with the classic "I Gotta Right To Sing the Blues," a soulful, torchy ballad enhanced by the deft counterpoint between guitarist Caron and saxophonist Jim Rothermel.
The last two tracks set up a coda of sorts, beginning with the mournful "The Strongest Stand Alone," followed immediately by the uptempo and optimistic "Every Day's a New Day." The final message is clear: for all the perils associated with love, there's a whole world to be gained by approaching it with an open mind and an open heart.
Behind Muldaur's trademark sultry vocals is a talented eight-piece crew that boils a wide range of shades and styles down to a well-textured musical backdrop. In addition to the aforementioned Caron, Rothermel and Craven, the studio roster also includes: pianist Chris Burns, bassist Seward McCain, drummer/percussionist Lance Dresser, pedal steel player Bobby Black and keyboardist John Burr.
Love Wants To Dance, and Maria Muldaur is waiting on the dance floor.