Carmen Lundy, 'This is Carmen Lundy' and 'Good Morning Kiss'
The Washington Post
January 31, 2003
Nothing brings out the best in vocalist Carmen Lundy faster than a broken heart. Or at least that's the impression left by "This Is Carmen Lundy," where sad songs easily trump romantic musings.
"All Day, All Night" may get the veteran jazz singer's new album off to a love-struck start, but the song seems awfully slight compared with what follows, when the blissful mood gives way to soulful reflection on "This Is the End of a Love Affair" and "Now That He's Gone." The former, a first-person account, and the latter, a third-person narrative, are reminders of just how skillful Lundy is when it comes to tapping sorrow or evoking vulnerability. Even when the tempo quickens and the orchestration brightens on the bop-inspired "Better Luck Next Time," Lundy waxes blue and philosophic, telling an ex-lover, "I'll see you around / In the lost and found."
The only love song that compares favorably is "(I Dream) in Living Color," and that's primarily because the arrangement, with its alternately jabbing and muted horns, allows Lundy a chance to freely improvise. A couple of inspirational ballads, including the Langston Hughes-inspired "One More River to Cross," add to the album's rewards and help showcase a terrific band that features saxophonist Bobby Watson, drummer Ralph Peterson Jr. and bassist Curtis Lundy (Carmen Lundy's brother), among others.
"Good Morning Kiss," Lundy's 1985 debut album and a recent reissue complete with alternate takes, documents her early promise in a series of colorfully orchestrated performances, with horn arrangements by Watson. Lundy's horn-like agility, immediately apparent on "Time Is Love," and her voice's seductive allure, amply displayed on "The Lamp Is Low," often make for a potent combination.