22 APR 10 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Between shows in her frenetic touring schedule, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Nnenna Freelon lives in North Carolina. Homefree, her 7th Concord Jazz release, symbolizes the joy a road warrior feels when her plane touches down in familiar territory.
Recorded in Durham, NC, the 11 tracks comprise what Freelon calls her "home brew," a concoction of American songbook, traditional anthems and swinging Blues. Her longtime touring band backs her and the simpatico between them is obvious.
The opener, "The Lamp Is Low," grooves with quiet storm intensity. "(Theme From) Valley Of The Dolls" loses its kitsch flavor with a cool bossa beat. The lyrics "Gotta get off/Gonna get/Off of this merry-go-round" are reinterpreted from the original story of little white pills to Freelon's theme of longing for home. Her original, "Cell Phone Blues" is a humorous take on the long-time tradition of describing social experience in the 12-bar form.
The classic African-American anthem "Lift Every Voice And Sing" gets an update with a rap by Freelon's son, Pierce. The collection closes with an unusual arrangement of "America The Beautiful," with cello and a triangle joining her soulful piano trio.
The Lamp Is Low
Nnenna Freelon, from Homefree