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The Jazz Cannon | Amateur Soul Surgery (Function 8)
While Mary Lorson took time out to make her Saint Low record, band mate and main songwriter, Billy Cote went off and came up with this. Although not similar to Mary's work, it's not a million miles away from previous Madder Rose records, utilising drum machines and Billy's swooping guitar and adding keyboards to the mix for good measure. Don Greene provides the vocals on most of the songs, but fear not, Ms Lorson's sweet voice pops up in the back of track 2 and reappears at points throughout the disc, even taking the lead on a couple of occasions. A few tracks can sound too experimental and art for arts sake, but that's why they're here and not on a MR album and it makes this an intriguing and, sometimes, irritating listen. Some of the songs are stunningly beautiful, notably where Mary sings, but she does have the voice of an angel and could make you swoon by singing a steak and kidney pie recipe. This fact just reinforces how great the Cote/Lorson partnership is, she is his muse and he seems lost when she's not there. Maybe it's just that Greene's vocals add too much darkness, weighing the songs down, whereas Mary allows them to float. Thinly Veiled shows this, and is a highlight of the album, as Don and Mary sing together making you giddy with the extremes. Overall though, it lacks real soul and is only occasionally incisive, but is the work of a professional.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000

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