CD Review: Beth Rowley

Beth Rowley
Little Dreamer
Verve Forecast
By David Chiu

Beth Rowley’s jazz-inflected vocals and eclectic musical approach will inevitably draw comparisons to Norah Jones. While that maybe true, there are also a few characteristics showcased on this wonderful that make this English singer stand out from her American counterpart. For one thing, she has some strong pop tendencies on two tracks that evoke some of the great female singer/songwriters from the ‘70s. The ones that come to mind are the wonderful “So Sublime” (which sounds like a cross between Carole King and Laura Nyro), and the very upbeat-sounding “Oh My Life.” It’s hard to somehow pin down Rowley’s style because it’s all over the place: there’s gospel (“Almost Persuaded,” “Only One Cloud”), country (“When the Rains Came,” “Beautfiul Tomorrow”) and reggae-folk (her interpretation of Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”). Rowley also has a really lovely voice, reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt as it is mannered and eloquent but with a lot of soul too. Little Dreamer is a gem of an album and hopefully the stepping stone to a fruitful career for this newcomer.

See a video clip of “Oh My Life” from YouTube:


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