Luciana Souza: Never Let Me Go


Never Let Me Go


Luciana Souza (vocals)


North & South (Sunnyside 1112 )

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Luciana Souza (vocals),

Edward Simon (piano), Scott Colley (bass), Clarence Penn (drums)


Composed by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans


Recorded: New York, 2002


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Luciana Souza is a Brazilian vocalist with extraordinary range. As comfortable with the contemporary classical music of Osvaldo Golijov as she is with the sambas of Tom Jobim, she has composed music to the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Pablo Neruda, and sings astounding versions of American pop standards. Her recording of “Never Let Me Go” digs deep into the lyric’s theme of fear and loneliness in a very profound way. Souza stretches out the song’s phrases, moving them further and further away from where they usually fit in the harmony. The band never includes extra beats or bars to make up for this discrepancy, and there’s a great feeling of tension as we wonder how Souza will finish the song in time with the rhythm section. This technique focuses our attention on Souza and the words that she sings, and her intense, dramatic delivery sears into the heart. Exactly how does Souza catch up with the rhythm section? Well, I’ve listened to this recording several times, counting measures and listening for dropped lyrics and shortened phrases, and I’m still not sure how she did it. I can say that it’s an amazing extension of a similar technique used by Chris Connor on a famous live version of “Misty” from the Village Gate. But while Connor’s version seemed far off the melody, she always got caught up by the end of each 8-bar phrase; Souza’s “Never Let Me Go” stretches the idea further, going over and beyond the structure of the phrases to create her own unique—and unforgettable—interpretation.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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