Her 2021 release Inside Out features a mix of covers and original material. Joining her on this disc are John Crawford on piano, Nic France on drums, and Rob Statham on bass, all of whom also played on Forget Me Not, along with Ian Shaw joining on vocals on a couple of tracks.
The album opens with “Keep Walking,” and immediately there is the sense of movement forward, of strolling beyond the troubles, of perseverance. But it is not a heavy piece. There is a touch of funk to it, and a certain amount of joy. The tune is about not giving up, but it is not like defeat is close on our heels. Rather, it is more of a Can Do attitude heard in the playing. Most of its positive energy comes from the saxophone, but that rhythm is delicious, and in the second half there is a wonderful lead on piano that gets exciting as it progresses. Then “Surfing Thermals” has a cool opening. I particularly like the way the drums support the saxophone at the beginning. Here we get another totally enjoyable groove. Ah, to be able to fly, to glide along on the winds. Well, we may not be quite equipped for that, but we can certainly dance and sway to this music, and let it carry us, for again the music is about movement. This track features some great work on drums.
“Frozen Light” is the first of the two tracks to feature Ian Shaw on vocals. Shaw also wrote the lyrics, and the song’s opening lines continue that sense of movement, of gliding: “We float, we flow/Lighter than snow/In our life, where light is the only thing we know.” There is a very cool vibe to this track, a hip sound. This track feels like it comes from a world that is much cooler than what we’ve been seeing from humanity lately. The sound of this song is how things should be, how they should feel. I especially love Hannah Horton’s work on saxophone. “We come, we go/Longing to know/If it’s all an illusion – reflections on snow.” That’s followed by the first cover of the album, “Nardis,” written by Miles Davis. Hannah Horton does an excellent job with it. I love the flow to her playing. This track also features an excellent lead on bass halfway through. The music then starts to build in power during the lead on piano, before then relaxing a bit just as Hannah comes back in. The group delivers a gorgeous rendition of “The Peacocks,” a piece written by Jimmy Rowles (or, Jimmie Rowles, as it was spelled on the record The Peacocks). That work on saxophone is particularly good, and carries us through most of the track.
Hannah Horton also gives us a strong rendition of Chick Corea’s “The Windows,” a piece that was included on his 1973 double album Inner Space, as well as his 1975 double album Circling In. By the way, Chick Corea Elektric Band also put out an album titled Inside Out. On this track, John Crawford shines on piano, delivering some fantastic work. The mood is decidedly light for “Horn Dance.” I didn’t know Morris dancing still happened, but I am determined to get to England next year, so perhaps I’ll see this horn dance myself. For now, I’ll just enjoy this track, particularly that bass line. That’s followed by “Feed The Birds,” a song from Mary Poppins. I haven’t seen that movie since I was a child, and have no recollection of this tune whatsoever, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the version in the movie isn’t half as enjoyable as that on this album. This rendition has a strong groove, with drum work that feels different from much of the rest of the album. And I love the way the saxophone and piano interact in that section in the middle.
The band returns to original material with “Breathing Out,” which eases in, taking us gently in its arms. After a minute or so, this piece starts to get a bit looser and enjoy itself. It then relaxes again just as Ian Shaw comes in. This is the second and final track to feature his vocal work. Like the other track, Shaw wrote the lyrics for this one. It’s a song that uses music, musical terms, to remind us to relax, to let go, to heave a large sigh that says, Well all right that’s done. Hannah Horton then wraps things up with another original composition, “Escape.” After we’ve let out that big sigh and relaxed, it’s time to enjoy ourselves again, to take a break from whatever has been bothering us. And that’s where this track comes in. Escape has never sounded more appealing. Who among us hasn’t yearned for an escape, an escape from the news, from the struggles, from the divisiveness, from the stupidity of nearly half this nation? Turn off the television, put down the phone, kick off your shoes, and enjoy some of your time. That’s what this music seems to be urging, and it takes us a good deal of the way there. A perfect ending to an excellent album.
CD Track List
- Keep Walking
- Surfing Thermals
- Frozen Light
- The Peacocks
- Horn Dance
- Feed The Birds
- Breathing Out
Inside Out was released on September 22, 2021.