Seattle-based vocalist Carrie Wicks is back with her fourth effort on the Origin label, and while there are many similarities stylistically with her previous efforts, Reverie more draws from the original compositions of Wicks and her partners Ken Nottingham and Nick Allison.
One of the commonalities between the recordings is Wicks' insight into putting together a top shelf unit on her behalf. Even more so, including pianist Bill Anschell in the mix is a particularly astute move, considering Anschell's stellar reputation with vocalists earned from his time as pianist/musical director for Nneena Freelon. The band rounds out with trailblazing bassist Jeff Johnson, uber talented drummer D'Vonne Lewis, and perhaps the perfect foil for Wick's dark narrative vocal style, saxophonist Brent Jensen.
"Wide Open" encapsulates the vibe of the album, with Wicks swaying through a melodic drift in her signature dark, poetic, conversational delivery. As with all of the lyrical content, the storyline is personal, observational, and an essential part of the listening experience. "Spider Rain" begins with Lewis' mood setting opening, unfolding into Wicks' introspective presence. As is true throughout the album, the harmonic framework provided by the aforementioned cast is exquisite.
The reflective vibe of the record continues with "Paginas en Blanco," musing on stories never told in both English and Spanish. Jensen and Anschell offer brief solos, both rich in melodic lyricism. "Safe in the World" typifies the compositional approach for the ten originals included—staying well within Wicks' strengths as a vocalist while stressing an open ended melody allowing free verse expressionism, with less emphasis on dynamic range. There is a real cafe style vibe, that feels like late night in a hipster setting.
Reverie requires the listener to connect with the poetry of the narrative, or the experience is lost. The exquisite playing of the band, both in support and in soloing, is what allows the listener to connect the dots verse to verse. The qualities that are original and unique in Wick's vocal style are as well what tends to draw the listener away into a circular continuum. While the writing is smart, and intimately soul reflective, the vibe of the record seldom strays from that allure. The album lacks a fuller spectrum of musical and emotional colors that would create a broader audience experience. While this gathering of superb west coast musicians provides a formidable foundation for this collection of poetically nuanced tunes, they are seldom given the opportunity to stretch out and fully display their collective talents as they often do in Wicks' live performances.
Wicks' music exposes her literary roots, and abilities as a storyteller. Reverie was created in that spirit.