From Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs by Lori Cullen
animated by Kurt Swinghammer
- Written by Lesley Mitchell-Clarke
- Category: Pot Pourri
- Published: 28 November 2016
Contemporary jazz/pop vocalist Lori Cullen’s latest release is an appealing and innovative project that is the result of an inspired collaboration between Cullen herself and two noted musicians – composer/guitarist Kurt Swinghammer and composer/lyricist Ron Sexsmith. It was Sexsmith who first suggested to Swinghammer that they write an album together specifically tailored for Cullen. The 12 tracks on the CD all feature lyrics by Sexsmith and are rife with Swinghammer’s carefully placed stylistic elements of the artists who defined the fertile pop eras of the 1960s and 1970s, including tips of the hat to Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Produced by bassist Maury Lafoy (who appears on the project), the musicians also include drummer Mark Mariash, keyboardist Robbie Grunwald and Swinghammer on guitar. Although Fender Rhodes and guitar are central to the instrumentation, the compelling, acoustic arrangements by Swinghammer also involve an array of diverse instrumental contributions, including finely crafted enhancements on trumpet, trombone, oboe, clarinet, vibraphone, marimba, English horn, recorder and more.
Cullen’s angelic voice wraps itself around each sumptuous melodic line and every composition has been constructed to highlight her superb, crystalline vocal instrument and intuitive knack for delivering frank emotional content and a quirky lyric. Memorable tracks include the gently swinging and faintly ironic The Face of Emily, which features a lush vocal arrangement, and the groovy, lighter-than-air bossa nova, New Love. Atrue gem is the heartrending duet between Cullen and Sexsmith, Off Somewhere.
This thoroughly pleasing and unabashedly romantic recording is a triumph for all three of these gifted artists and a stunning example of creative, musical symbiosis.
Delirious Canadian combo centred on jazz chanteuse and national treasure
Justly lauded as one of her generation’s purest voices, Cullen’s scale-swooning smoothness and jazzy agility here prove the perfect foil for two celebrated fellow countrymen fans. The landscape of Jobim/Bacharach pop is reimagined with Ron Sexsmith’s ever curious and naturally psychedelic lyrics on “Strange Is The Life”, along with the off-kilter soulfulness of inspired arrangements by Cullen’s husband, the excellently named Kurt Swinghammer. The cherry on the cake could be Ron and Lori’s “Off Somewhere”, but everywhere here these sensual, swinging and sashaying songs provide pleasure-centre-assailing treats for any season.
directed by Eden Robbins
performed by Lori Cullen and Ron Sexsmith
music written and arranged by Kurt Swinghammer
lyrics written by Ron Sexsmith
produced by Maury Lafoy
mixed by David Traver-Smith
trumpet Bryden Baird
drums Mark Mariash
keys Robbie Grunwald
guitar and string machine Kurt Swinghammer
bass Maury Lafoy
A sweet 10 minute long video directed by Michael Phillip Wojewoda, shot at Kurt & Lori’s home in Toronto with Ron Sexsmith. All music is from the new album, and included are stills from the original recording session.
“Drop The Needle”, directed by Joel Goldberg in 1990 and sporting graphic intensive art direction by Swinghammer, is one of only 10 music videos included in the Toronto International Film Festival’s 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History. It won the Juno Award for Best Video of the Year. The year prior Goldberg made the breakthrough video for Maestro’s “Let You Backbone Slide”, also art-directed by Swinghammer, and which became the first top-40 hit by a rap artist from Canada. That video won the MuchMusic Video of the Year Award, and was said to be the most requested video of all time at the nation’s music station.
“Positive/Negative” (instrumental). Week 42/Song 42 of “52″ song record, released alphabetically throughout 2016.
Players: Kurt Swinghammer guitar treatment, Loretta Hale cello, Dill piano, sampling. Produced & mixed by: The Dill at Mulaka Lakis, Hamilton, ON. Additional mixing: Tim Vesely at the Woodshed. Mastered by: Dale Morningstar. Layout: John Smith. Card art by: Dylan Hudecki http://thedill.ca/photography.html#_=_