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Customer Reviews

A truly gorgeous album

I acquired a physical copy of this album at last weekend's Newport Jazz Festival so have had about a week to listen and digest this music. And, during that time, I've noticed the more I've listened to the album, the more I was rewarded for doing so. This is a truly beautiful album which addresses love in its many facets, not just the romanticized version usually put forth by popular media. However, if you are looking for solely soothing soft tunes, this is probably not the album for you. If you are interested in creative expressions on the subject, you will enjoy this album.

In many ways, it feels as though this album is unsure whether it wants to be an out there avant garde album or a more inside orchestral album. Throughout the album there seems to be a constant pull between both directions, which beautiful freer music as a result.

Turning towards the avant garde aspects, one need look only at the album's personnel. Going in, one might expect this to be a really "out there" album. First, the group's lineup is, in large part, a who's who of modern avant garde music. To give you an idea, many of them are frequent John Zorn collaborators including Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Erik Friedlander on Cello and Zeena Parkins on harp. Others in the group, such as JD Parran, have established avant garde cred playing with other luminaries of that music like Anthony Braxton. Add to that Nels himself who is largely known for playing outside the box. But pulling in the other direction are the album's musicians less known for extensive avant garde works including Cline's collaborator Julian Lage on rhythm guitar.

Then you have the song selections. You would not originally notice how strange the music is by the three singles - Beautiful Love, Glad to be Unhappy, and I have Dreamed- put out by Blue Note all of which tend to be very "in." But once you start digging through the tracks, you realize what an unusual selection of songs are presented on this album. Not all of it, especially on the second CD (tracks 11 onward), reflects that sound at all. The album, viewed in the abstract, represents a strange selection of tunes ranging from old standards (e.g. Kern's "Why Was I Born?", Rogers and Hart's "Glad to be Unhappy") to covers of jazz tunes (e.g. "Cry, Want" by Jimmy Giuffre and "So Hard It Hurts/Touching" by Annette Peacock), to modern covers (e.g. Sonic Youth's "Snare Girl" and Arto Lindsay's "It Only Has to Happen Once") to originals (e.g. "The Bond" and "You Noticed"). It is truly all over the place. To add to it, there are some pieces from film soundtracks, which are strange in their own right. One, Mancini's "The Search for Cat" for whatever reason was deemed insignificant to include on the film Breakfast at Tiffany's original soundtrack. The other is a melding of music from The Night Porter, an Italian film about a sadomasochist stalker, with music from the French flim Max Mon Amour, about a woman who falls in love with a chimpanzee. The Night Porter/Max, Mon Amour is indeed quite different from tracks like "I Have Dreamed" as it is at times quite gloomy with the sound of chains being dragged, strings rubbed and hard drum brushes. So, in all, very weird selection of tunes with many of the more "out" tunes placed later on the album. Such a strange smattering of tunes theoretically should not work but here it works quite well, especially if you listen to the entirety of the album in one sitting. It's hard to single out a single track on this album, especially as varied as the album is, worth mention. However, "The Bond" is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces in recent memory. Additionally I greatly appreciated the lap steel songs - I Have Dreamed and Why Was I Born?- which use the unique features of the instrument to be both beautiful and, at times, sad.

Ultimately I believe this shifting between the conventionally beautiful and "in" and the less conventional music and "out" is wholly intentional by Cline and (arranger and conductor) Michael Leonhart and intended to represent the constantly combined rationality and irrationality of love. Leonhart himself seems to add credence to this view when he noted in a recent Downbeat interview that the album is intended to represent "deviant love, twisted love, tortured love, unrequited love, fulfilled love, [and] timeless love." This album took Nels Cline at least 25 years to put into fruition but that time was well worth it. It is my favorite Cline album to date. He is far more laid back on most of the tracks than he is in most of his other works but it works incredibly well here. While I'm not sure how one can compare this to the rest of the Blue Note discography (it sounds quite different from most albums out there, let alone specifically Blue Note ones or the Rudy Van Gelder recordings in particular) I think it will become known as a modern classic.

Labour of love proves deeply rewarding

What a fabulous, eclectic set of standards, own compositions and esoterica selected and played by Nels Cline. 25 years in gestation this true labour of love has at last been released on Blue Note. This is a (loose) concept album, themed if one prefers. The playing order adds another layer of insight, but is in no way essential to enjoyment of these superbly arranged pieces. Familiar yet refreshingly contemporary, nuanced instrumentals that revive the out of fashion sense of "mood music" for lovers. Always optimistic, Cline's colour palette is generally bright, often lush yet at times darkly risqué and edgy. The playing, masterful. Strongly recommended and should prove a surprise for even long term fans of Cline's virtuosity and his association with Wilko. This labour of love was not in vain.

A masterpiece

Once in a blue moon an album like this one is made and it reminds us all of the simple beauty of music. The title perfectly reflects what the music is. It is music you want to share with someone. This album is up there with Sketches of Spain, Amoroso and Black Dahlia.


Born: 1956 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Up to the mid-2000s, guitarist Nels Cline was probably best known for his work in the group Quartet Music (with brother Alex Cline, bassist Eric Von Essen, and violinist Jeff Gauthier) as well as other projects in the jazz, rock, and avant-garde idioms, and for his general involvement in the West Coast's improvisation community. However, since 2004, Cline has been a member of Wilco, which has opened up a much larger audience for the guitarist than is typical for even the most well-known of avant...
Full Bio
Lovers, Nels Cline
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Aug 05, 2016

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