CD Review: PICK UP MY PIECES (Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson)

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by Tony Frankel on November 28, 2019



The opening track of Gabrielle Stravelli’s latest CD Pick up My Pieces — which covers Willie Nelson originals and songs he’s covered — is delicious and delightful. Front and center in the medley of “Lady Luck” and “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time” is that voice! I’m a huge fan, and her ability to swerve around country while jazzing it up is infectious. She bends her voice around the lyrics, mewling and scatting with infectious joy. Just listen to her swooning a capella in Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish’s “Stardust,” a standard well-suited to her jazzy flair. She also surrounds herself with the best musicians on the scene.

I’m just not nuts about some of the arrangements, such as “Butterfly,” in which her gorgeous instrument is somehow out of sync with the countrified instrumentation. This is when I’m not sold that this material is really for her, especially in slow arrangements (“Time of the Preacher”). But when the arrangements are cooking, as in the first track, “Three Days,” and a swingin’ “Mamma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys,” it’s much more agreeable, even if it’s not for her. She adds a N’awlins street sound to the “Little Old Fashioned Karma” medley, but the song feels out of her bailiwick (once she starts scatting, however, and the gentle brass comes in, it’s no doubt fun; but it’s still not an interesting interpretation). Stravelli fans will definitely appreciate how she reinvents the country ballad “Good-Hearted Woman,” but as amazing as she sounds, it feels a bit bloodless — a torch song without the flame.

Nothing here is cheap or poorly produced, and there’s some phenomenal musicians here, but when she tries to go all-out country (“Somebody Pick up My Pieces”), she lacks the universality and rawness that makes Country so heartfelt. I just can’t shake the feeling that Stravelli ended up between two worlds, instead of reawakening either genre.

Pick up My Pieces — Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson
Big Modern Music
12 tracks | 56:37 minutes
release date: April 5, 2019
for more info and to order, visit Amazon or Gabrielle Stravelli

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