Saturday, February 20, 2021

Hailey Brinnel: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” (2021) CD Review

With a title like I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, this album can be expected to contain some fun music, songs to lighten the mood and make us smile. And indeed, vocalist and trombone player Hailey Brinnel delivers wonderful renditions of some classic material, music to pull us away from our troubles and deposit us on some swinging cloud where life is joyous. Her voice has warmth, energy and passion, seeming capable of leading us to a sweeter, kinder, more enjoyable place. Joining Hailey Brinnel on this release are Joe Plowman on bass, Silas Irvine on piano, and Dan Monaghan on drums, along with a few special guests on certain tracks. This is Hailey Brinnel’s debut album as bandleader.

She opens the album with “Orange Colored Sky,” a song whose title for some reason or other I tend to forget. I expect the title to be “Flash, Bam, Alakazam.” But it just never is. Anyway, Hailey Brinnel has fun with this one, particularly vocally. I love the cheerful sound of her delivery. This version also features some really nice work on piano, a cool lead on bass, and even a drum solo in the second half, all of which make this an excellent opening track. Hailey Brinnel follows that with the album’s title track, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” which has kind of a dreamy vibe at first that seems to have equal parts innocence and melancholy (“They fly so high, nearly reach the sky/Then like my dreams they fade and die”), the piano sounding like something from a fairy tale. Then, after a minute and a half or so, this version suddenly takes off, starting to swing and move. Gone is the air of melancholy. Now we are in a joyful place, and when the horns come in, we are suddenly transported to New Orleans, dancing down the streets. Well, all right! Andrew Carson is on trumpet, and Sam Bishoff plays clarinet. This track just gets better and better. Then we return to that slower, softer section, almost like the song is putting us to bed, tucking us in, particularly that bass. This track is just so damn good, and is one of my personal favorites.

The bass begins this version of “Give Me The Simple Life,” and soon Hailey’s vocals come in, supported just by the bass, which is great, making this rendition a groovy duet, a sort of dance. Check out the smile in her voice particularly in lines like “Just serve me tomatoes and mashed potatoes” and “Sounds corny and seedy, but yes indeedy.” And here she offers a bit of playful scat too. This track is a delight. Then Hailey Brinnel gives us a beautiful, magical rendition of “Stardust,” her voice at first supported just by piano. When the rest of the band comes in, the late-night vibe of the track becomes stronger. And what a gorgeous vocal performance! I especially love those moments when she dips to her lower register. Then halfway through the track, she picks up the trombone and delivers a moving lead. That’s followed by a lively, fast-paced, and totally fun rendition of Cole Porter’s “Easy To Love.” I love that bass, and Andrew Carson returns to deliver some great stuff on trumpet. In addition, Hailey Brinnel gives us some more scat, and this track features a good drum solo. What more could you want?

“What’s The Use Of Getting Sober” is a great title, and a great question, though now that we’ve finally got that mendacious racist out of the White House, being sober doesn’t sound quite as bad as before. Anyway, this track features a totally playful and delightful vocal performance. “I love my whisky and I love my gin/Every time you see me, I’m in my sin/So what’s the use of getting sober/If you’re going to get drunk again.” Indeed. Avoid hangovers by staying drunk. And in the world of this song, there doesn’t seem to be any worry of negative consequences. I love Hailey’s work on trombone, which has a sort of inebriated quality itself, its movement having that kind of happy-drunk vibe. Then Dariel Peniazek joins Hailey Brinnel on guitar for a gorgeous, romantic rendition of “You Go To My Head.” The album concludes with “Show Me The Way To Go Home,” a song I will always associate with Jaws. It was in that film that I first heard it, and even as a child I was drawn to it and would sing it, without knowing any lines other than those sung by Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider. Anyway, Hailey Brinnel delivers an absolutely wonderful rendition, which takes on a New Orleans flavor once those horns come in and the drummer turns to a sort of march. It is all so delicious, but it might be the piano work that I love most about this version. Then at the end, Hailey encourages everyone to sing along. And who could refrain from joining her? Goodbye, troubles!

CD Track List

  1. Orange Colored Sky
  2. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles
  3. Give Me The Simple Life
  4. Stardust
  5. Easy To Love
  6. What’s The Use Of Getting Sober
  7. You Go To My Head
  8. Show Me The Way To Go Home

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles is scheduled to be released on March 5, 2021.

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