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And, They Call Us Cowboys

Kellye Gray

GRR8 Records 2013

Review by David Bowling

Kellye Gray is a modern day jazz singer who has been active in the recording studio and on the road since the early 1990s. She has a voice that is made for jazz and has carved out a nice little career for herself. Now, she has done what many musicians refuse to do and that is taking a chance with her music and career, which she has done on her latest album, And, They Call Us Cowboys.

Up until this point in her career, her music has never embraced her Texas heritage. She has now issued an album of well-known songs written by Texans or songwriters who have a connection to the state. She has covered compositions by such artists such as Kris Kristofferson, Mac Davis, Roger Miller, Christopher Cross, Roy Orbison, Lyle Lovett, and more. She is not shy about tackling signature songs. “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” “In The Ghetto,” “Dang Me,” “Sailing,” “Only The Lonely,” “Always On My Mind,” and “Night’s Lullaby” are all vehicles for her vocal prowess.

While jazz remains the foundation of her approach, she leaves it behind at times and transforms the songs into gospel, bossa nova, boogaloo, and blues. Her approach moves many of the songs out of their accepted norms and, which allows her to add some new textures to these old war horses.

Given her approach, she wisely kept it simple in the recording studio. Sessions were recorded live and most of the songs have no over-dubbing. What she recorded is what you hear. The sound is full but there is spontaneity, which serves her well.

And, They Call Us Cowboys is an interesting album propelled by Gray’s world-class pipes. If you are a vocal jazz aficionado but are in the mood for something a little different, then this may be a release for you.

Rating: ****

Article first published as www.cashboxmagazine.com on Cashbox Magazine

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