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The Borderland Music Watch: Jacqui Sutton – “Billie & Dolly”

I think it’s easy enough to work out who the Billy & Dolly are in the album title – and even easier if you look at the digipack cover. Jazz and country aren’t the easiest cohabits in the musical spectrum. Apart from the Western Swing bands such as Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and many more of that ilk who toured and ripped up the South-western states of the USA back in the 40s and 50s, I haven’t heard much country in jazz since then. So this rather strange hybrid by vocalist Jacqui Sutton and The Frontier Jazz Orchestra makes for an intriguing listen. Inspired by the songs of Billie Holiday and Dolly Parton, the eleven tracks here tend to veer more towards the jazz with just a few country-typical instruments added. I have to say that the orchestra are very good, folding their sound around the voice of Ms Sutton like a velvet glove. Most of the songs tend towards the jazz songbook, with only one Parton song, Endless Stream of Tears, and a couple of bluegrass originals to hold the country end up. Overall the sound is quite sophisticated and the sound of the South seem to represent the Country element. I may be missing the point of this exercise but Ms Sutton sings mostly in a high register which is near soprano and most of the songs sound like they should be sung in a lower register, more in the style of Ms Holiday. Perhaps being a Brit is colouring my responses to this album, it sounds like neither fish nor fowl. Even after several plays I am still unsure of what to make of this album, and that is unusual for me. There doesn’t seem to be any direct web address for Ms Sutton so you may like to see if there are any sample tracks available from the URL listed below.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.karigaffney.com

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