Editors' pick

Felicia Carter & Amy Shook

Jazz
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Editorial Review

FELICIA CARTER AND AMY SHOOK
Album review: "Nothing to Do"

You won’t find singer Felicia Carter and bassist Amy Shook dutifully saluting prime influences on “Nothing to Do.” They’re too busying toasting boisterous spirits, celebrating witty songcraft and conjuring warm lyricism.

Case in point: Carter’s “You Don’t Have to Be Brilliant (to Mesmerize Me),” the album’s most engaging and evocative track. It takes its cue from Alberta Hunter’s classic blues anthem “Two-Fisted, Double Jointed, Rough and Ready Man,” and although Carter’s alluring voice is no match for Hunter’s brassy shout, the performance generates waves of charm and personality. By contrast, Shook’s “When It Matters Most,” a haunting ballad inspired by John Coltrane, illustrates Carter’s quiet flair for sustaining a soulful mood with her intimate delivery and poetic lyrics. Another treat is the album’s title track, a lazy-day musing penned by Carter that would enhance a recording by, say, Diana Krall or Madeleine Peyroux.

Even so, Carter and Shook aren’t the only attractions. Pianist Bob Butta, drummer Frank Russo and guitarist Donato Soviero are featured prominently, whether charging blues and bop tunes with vibrant propulsion or colorfully accenting ballads. In fact, thanks to their spirited collaborations with Shook, much of the album sounds as if were recorded in a concert setting.

--Mike Joyce, April 29, 2011