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The Lightness of Hearing

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Album Review

Released hot on the heels of Lauren Newton's CD Out of Sound (also on Leo Records), The Lightness of Hearing presents her in a beautiful studio session with pianist Patrick Scheyder. Completely improvised, the music takes the form of short pieces, between three and seven minutes long. The temptation to call them "songs" is strong — and the terms "art songs" and "lieder" are almost inevitable. Sheyder is a classical pianist gone improvisational. Newton can alternately sound like a jazz diva, an opera singer, and a small wild animal. In these pieces they both walk a tightrope, taking chances with every step — and it pays, as each track feels genuinely composed (minus the rigidity). The music ranks among Newton's finest efforts and tops (with headroom) in sheer interest Scheyder's previous improv album (a duet with Evan Parker). Highlights include the mournful "Lied for Mouth 2," the Billie Holiday-inflected "Blue Lied 2," and "Beck and Call." There, something truly magical happens. After a few minutes of frenetic, off-the-wall simultaneous call and response from Newton in onomatopoeia, she takes her fullest operatic voice to sing a dramatic melody. Things boil down and she finishes the piece holding a quiet high note that literally dissolves into the air. What's fantastic here is that the pair begins the next piece, "...To Be Here," at the same point and keeps things very quiet throughout. This anticlimax is one of the strongest, most emotion-draining moments heard on CD in some time. Highly recommended. ~ François Couture, Rovi

The Lightness of Hearing, Lauren Newton and Patrick Scheyder
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