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What Love Is

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Album Review

Wisconsin native Erin Boheme was only 18 when she found herself recording for the house that Carl Jefferson built: Concord Jazz. Some people who heard What Love Is, Boheme's debut album, questioned whether or not it belonged on a jazz-oriented label; truth be told, this 2006 release has as much to do with jazzy pop as it does with jazz. But even though Boheme is by no means a jazz purist, she is clearly jazz-influenced — and besides, the late Rosemary Clooney was a fixture at Concord throughout the '80s and '90s despite the fact that her specialty was jazz-influenced traditional pop rather than hardcore vocal jazz. So stylistically, this crossover effort (which is best described as traditional pop meets vocal jazz meets adult contemporary) isn't inappropriate for Concord. If Boheme is a crossover artist at heart, that's fine as long as she strives for quality — and this is a pleasant, if undeveloped and mildly inconsistent, debut from the Midwestern singer. Concord was obviously hoping to reach the Norah Jones crowd with What Love Is, which makes sense because Boheme's vocals hint at Jones in addition to hinting at Billie Holiday. Boheme favors a sweetly girlish approach, although she seems to be aiming for some of Julie London and Peggy Lee's sultriness as well. And even though her performances aren't breathtaking, Boheme shows herself to be a likable singer on a CD that ranges from a few Tin Pan Alley warhorses (including Sammy Cahn's "Teach Me Tonight" and Cole Porter's "Let's Do It") to Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" to several tunes that Boheme co-wrote. This is by no means a bad album, although it is the work of an artist who still has some growing and developing to do. All things considered, Boheme is worth keeping an eye on.


Born: Oshkosh, WI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Oshkosh, Wisconsin, native and jazz vocalist Erin Boheme was only 18 when she released her debut album on Concord, but her pursuit of a record deal started long before that. Boheme sang from an early age, and her parents encouraged her musical pursuits. With her mother, Susan, the young singer was just 15 when she flew to Los Angeles to meet with managers and labels. Nothing ever came of that, however, and Boheme remained in Wisconsin, singing at weddings and graduation parties. In 2004, after reading...
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What Love Is, Erin Boheme
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