Solveig Slettahjell, Good Rain

Peter Margasak

By Peter Margasak

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Are you there, Norah Jones? Listen and learn.

Solveig Slettahjell is usually classified as a jazz singer, but as this, her fourth and best album, makes clear, that appellation doesn't do her music justice. In fact, an artist that straddles pop and jazz like Norah Jones could learn some valuable lessons from Slettahjell. Supported by her well-named Slow Motion Quintet — which features keyboardist Morten Qvenild and trumpeter Sjur Miljeteig — she languorously yet precisely slithers and glides through a dazzling program, most of which was penned by her and her band. Slettahjell carefully shapes gorgeous melodies, constantly shifting emphasis through her faultless intonation. She doesn't scat or play loosey-goosey with the melodies, instead choosing to put her faith in clear readings. The band exercises impressive restraint, keep the volume down while regularly dropping in new accents, textures and countermelodies.