Sophie Duner: Two Time Losers
Two Time Losers
Sophie Dunér (vocals)
The Rain in Spain (CIMP, Ltd.)
Sophie Dunér (vocals),
Rory Stuart (guitar), Matt Penman (bass), Kahlil Kwame Bell (percussion).
Recorded: Rossie, NY, September 8-9, 2005
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Once in a while, out of the great sea of noise known as independent music, one encounters a rare and exotic species. Such a discovery is the enigmatic Swedish singer, composer, poet and painter Sophie Dunér. Prolific, fearless and quirky, Dunér is difficult to pigeonhole. Emerging from Sweden's nurturing cultural environment in the 1990s, she studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, played Birdland and Scullers (with the Sophie Dunér Orchestra), and most recently released The City of My Dreams, an album of modern classical vocal compositions backed by her string quartet. On top of all that, she is a respected visual artist. The Swedish Arts Council recently awarded her a $6,000 grant to fund her myriad creative endeavors.
Here she proves she can hold her own in the jazz world as well, backed by a New York-based minimalist trio featuring the archtop guitar and upright bass, with various percussion instruments replacing the more traditional drum kit. It is the perfect vehicle for Dunér's quasi-cryptic lyrics and edgy vocal style. "Two Time Losers" teeters between cabaret and bluesy acoustic jazz, rewarding the ear with a raw, fresh intensity that well serves the irony of the lyrics. The natural recording process and aesthetics of the CIMP mix take a bit of getting used to, but it's worth the effort. Guitarist Rory Stuart delivers a mischievous, confident solo over the retro-cool upright and bongos, saying plenty without spewing needless bop clichés, while Dunér's deceptively sweet voice betrays a dark undercurrent. This is East Village coffeehouse poetry-jazz, to be served with bitter espresso, trails of cigarette smoke and black fishnet stockings. Sophie, you are just too cool.
Reviewer: Bill Barnes