American songstress gets a grip on nocturnal possibilities and progresses to swing and beyond.
Although jazz was a part of this singer’s DNA from the beginning of her career, it needed a certain amount of cultivation, so Ms Saran’s creative partner Narada Michael Walden has been steadily steering her towards the sophisticated genre. The results of such a process became rather obvious on 2018’s "Soulful Christmas" – a direct precursor to “Smoky Nights” that takes Jennifer’s performances to a new level of profundity. From the title track on, the mini-album’s five numbers demonstrate not only an immense depth to both writing and delivery but also a different dimension to arrangements, with ivories and woodwind shaping a living, breathing space where the artist’s voice is expansive, yet intimate, to wrap around the listener’s very psyche, let alone ears.
Elegant and elegiac, it’s very natural – there’s no pretentiousness in sight, and this sincerity turns Saran into a chanteuse she’s always aspired to be, someone who can lead you into the darkness to explore romantic promises, and while the croon of “The Love Is Now Gone” has drama woven in a sweet tune, the vocals run the solemn gamut from celestial heights to husky lows and back again, landing eventually on cathartic afterglow. So whereas the sensational, sensual “Don’t Forget My Name” harbors hope in an orchestral swell, “Let The Waves Wash Over Me” rolls out a playful, optimistic groove, and the socially charged swagger that’s in the heart of “Get Over Yourself” gravitates towards vaudeville – all of it a sign of timelessness which Jennifer is able to harness with ease now.
Looks like the lady’s finally arrived: bright in the night, she can blind in the light.