4 Stars for New Souvenirs from Jazzwise

★★★★
New Souvenirsimages

Charlie Wood

While Charlie Wood’s previous release on the Memphis-based independent label Archer Records, his fine 2012 album Lush Life, served up an 11-track collection of covers, New Souvenirs sees the singer, songwriter and keyboardist return to the fertile territory of self-penned material.  Co-produced with his wife, Jacqui Dankworth, it’s a collection of 12 memorable songs of a quite startling diversity, united by their pointed emotional power.  The album’s lead-off song, “No Repose”, is a slow-burner that builds to an impassioned, string-laden climax.  “Music Is My Monkey” is a funky personal credo driven irresistibly onwards by Wood on clav and organ.  The flowing, iridescent textures of “Until the Fall” find Wood at his most poetic, while the state-of-the-human-race “Mercy” is all the more compelling for its understatement.  “Tube” is a witty, rimshot and bass-driven critique of Wood’s adoptive hometown’s underground system (“It’s tough to be a rat down there”.)  By contrast, “The Tide” is all gorgeous close harmony backing harmonies.  The album closes as it opens, with one of Wood’s beautifully crafted, piano-led ballads, “Winter Song”.  This is an album that taps straight into the core of Wood’s formidable artistry.

-Peter Quinn