Cassandra Wilson, Another Country

Steve Holtje

By Steve Holtje

on 06.26.12 in Reviews
Expanding her reach into gentle smooth jazz, bossa nova and samba

In her three-decade career, Wilson has shown commendable stylistic versatility, tackling genres as disparate as the off-kilter funk of her M-BASE days, straight-ahead jazz standards, and the blues-pop hybrid that made her famous. On Another Country, her first album since parting ways with Blue Note (her label from 1993-2010), she further expands her reach into gentle smooth jazz, bossa nova and samba, complete with genre-appropriate accordion. Much credit goes to producer/co-composer Fabrizio Sotti, an excellent guitarist equally capable of Metheny-esque jazz soloing or acoustic folk strumming. Even beyond his two solo tracks, there are songs where Sotti’s fluid playing is nearly as much the focus as Wilson’s trademark languid singing. Wilson revisits the mellow intimacy of her early Blue Note albums but eschews cover songs for a change, writing or co-writing every song aside from Sotti’s solo tracks. The material starts out a bit lightweight, but deepen on the second half; the streak of “Passion,” “When Will I See You Again,” and the title track should make it clear to any fans who fixated on the familiar covers of albums past that Wilson’s a top-notch writer of moody meditations. Even a children’s chorus, usually a bad move, works on “Olomuroro,” the closing track.