Ian Shaw: Alone Again, Naturally
Alone Again, Naturally
Ian Shaw (vocals, piano)
A World Still Turning (441 Records 0020)
Ian Shaw (vocals, piano).
Composed by Gilbert O’Sullivan.
Recorded: New York City, June 2003
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
Yes, that "Alone Again, Naturally," namely the one that Gilbert O'Sullivan, its singer and composer, made into a Top 40 hit in 1972. With syrupy string backing, and his unwavering, monotonous, and nearly cheerful delivery, who would have thought that O'Sullivan was singing about contemplating suicide after being jilted and also trying to cope with his parents' deaths? Irishman O'Sullivan claimed the lyrics were not of an autobiographical nature, and yet Welshman Ian Shaw--who was just 10 years old in 1972--is able to transform them into a convincingly personal testament three decades later. Since Shaw sings everything with an emotional commitment and understanding, his riveting performance of this unlikely tune should come as no surprise.
Shaw's own refined piano accompaniment only serves to enhance his interpretation. He is intimately conversational, free-flowing in his phrasing, and rhythmically unfettered. His pliant, restrained voice is moving, nuanced, and sophisticated,. nuanced, the difference if you will, between a jazz as opposed to pop approach--note his fleeting and tasteful scat-piano unison aside, for example. The clincher is his reading of the concluding words: "And when she passed away / I cried and cried all day / Alone again...alone again / Alone again, naturally." Shaw's two delicate chords cap a track that is unashamedly heartfelt and down-to-earth. It's a mystery why this fine, infinitely versatile vocalist doesn't get to record more often.
Reviewer: Scott Albin