Fleurine debunks the myth of the typical Jazz singer, and is closer to those for whom jazz is not part of an image, nor a finality, but rather a means -among others – to be used in the search for their art. This quality places her in the realm of artists like Joni Mitchell, Laurie Anderson or Marisa Monte. Each, in their inimitable style, is astute enough not to fall into any fixed category.
With “Fire’, Fleurine has created her own eclectic ‘songbook’. Inspired by classical music, swing, rock, and South American rhythms, she shapes her identity, transcending the genres. Fleurine’s musical integrity is the common denominator that makes all these genres into a cohesive sound that is distinctly hers.
From the opening track, Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire”, Fleurine’s gift of making songs her own, remodeling them with great refinement, becomes apparent. In this classic by “the Boss” she beguiles us with a subtle mix of nonchalance and persuasive conviction. As for “Show me the Way”: you need genuine talent to re-create a worldwide hit like this one and make the listener forget about the original version by Peter Frampton. Fleurine creates a breezy arrangement cast here in a completely different rhythmic setting. “Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders and “Still Crazy After All These Years” by Paul Simon get a ‘make-over’ in a similar spirit. And there’s her decidedly more jazzy interpretation of John Guerin & Michael Frank’s “Don’t be Blue”, featuring Jesse van Ruller and Peter Bernstein, each respectively one of Europe and America’s most revered young guitar players today.
We are at the heart of the art of re-interpreting; these songs are getting a second life thanks to an ingenious arrangement ― as if the notes that they consisted of had not yet been squeezed out of all their substance or full emotional content. Just like Jimi Hendrix, who took Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and made it his own, or John Coltrane who sculpted the Broadway melody “My Favorite Things” into one of his signature hymns, or Jimmy Scott who transformed Prince’s “Nothing compares to you” into a cult hit: it’s the magic of music.
Fleurine has spun her musical web with high quality material, enhancing each song with a touch of her own poetry. Her version of Nick Drake’s composition’ Fruit Tree’ has a tip-toe like delicacy that touches on the sublime. “Après un Rêve”, written by Gabriel Fauré, is one of the album’s summits, achieving a perfect symbiosis between the harmonic alchemy of the French Master, Brad Mehldau’s treatment, and Fleurine’s sensual, mysterious voice. “So Tinha de Ser com Você” by Jobim is an ideal anchor point for the two other Brazilian influenced tunes, ‘Suavidade’ and ‘Você’, for which Fleurine penned part of the music and lyrics in Portuguese. On top of being a gifted musician, singer, arranger, and lyricist all at once (or even producer when it’s needed), Fleurine possesses true talent for composition, showcased in the moving “Hey Little Girl”, the elegant ballad that concludes this album.
The production of Robert Sadin is a model of musical restraint, resembling a marvelous piece of musical ‘haute couture.” Fleurine employs a varied tonal palette for her arrangements. The solid rhythm section of Jesse van Ruller and Johan Plomp are an integral part of the recording, providing a rich, flowing accompaniment for Fleurine, highlighted on some tracks by the subtle percussion and drums of Jeff Ballard, Seamus Blake’s soulful tenor saxophone and Gil Goldstein’s dramatic accordion.
With her natural, instinctive approach, her crystal timbre and distinguished sound, Fleurine draws us into her world, and with this intimate songbook she crosses boundaries, making it universal.