Review of Under your skin

Under your skin
Jaine Rogers
Posted at The Woodshed on October 18, 2009

When a singer as young and as surprisingly polished as Jaine Rogers offers her first recorded collection of music, the first question that's likely to pop into a music lover's mind is "Who is she?"
On the surface of things, Rogers is gorgeous young singer from England by way of Anguilla with a voice that's stunningly mature and rich, a husky, throaty pulse that speaks of decades of hard living she can't possibly have experienced.

She sharpened her chops throughout this decade with high profile and club appearances in Anguilla, capping that arc of work with an appearance at "Divas with heart" at Radio City Music Hall in 2008, according to the biography on her CD.
She cites as influences Dinah Washington, Mahalia Jackson, Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone.

But between the sleeves of her album is a more complicated portrait. Backed by a tight, well co-ordinated band that decorates her earthy delivery with delicate, tasteful flourishes, Jaine Rogers ranges widely through a repertoire that's part re-imagined standards and part original compositions with widely scattered influences.

On songs like
Misty, Walk on by and the intimidating Cry me a river, she skips lightly between homage to the performers who have come before her on these works and daring rethinking of the phrasing of these well-known compositions, wresting some pleasant surprises from the familiar words.

Cry me a river in particular, a song with so many remarkable readings, Rogers stakes her own distinguished claim on the work, playfully offering herself as the hurt, ruefully vengeful woman taking a bitter glee in the pain of her supplicant ex-lover.
The new songs offer a sometimes more confusing portrait of a young artist searching for a way to define her interpretive skills.

When God cries and Reflections are both reggae influenced numbers, the former offering heady gospel inflections on a rock steady beat, the latter framing bluesy wailing over a dub bass snarl that snakes compellingly through the song.
My mistakes is almost pop blues, a number that seems to have been composed for a slower and more contemplative reading that Rogers has picked up the pace on and spiced with wailing guitar solos.

What ties the album together is uniformly excellent orchestration and arrangements by Michael Carvin, who may well understand the singer's voice as well as she does.
The songs may jump all over the place in style, but the arranger threads a careful understanding of his band's capabilities through all the numbers and more compellingly, a real appreciation for the range and intelligence of his singer, whose ambitions for the songs are both intriguing and engaging.

Even after multiple listenings, I can't really say that I know who Jaine Rogers is, but this is a smart singer has a sound understanding of both the power of her voice and how it can exploit the lyrics she interprets, so I'm keen to find out what she discovers about herself and shares in future releases.
So yes, it's fair to say that she managed to get under my skin.
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