Review by Chris Cody
The challenge for singer/guitar duos is to maintain sufficient rhythmic and textural interest in what is a pared back and vulnerable setting. Without bass and drums, it is hard for any guitarist to provide the whole package of accompanying with chords, providing a walking bass where needed, making melodic comments between vocal phrases and taking a solo when the voice drops out.
However James Sherlock and Kristin Berardi sound like they’ve been doing it for a while, and complement each other very well. You can hear the trust between them, particularly in their improvisations and at the ends of pieces when they leave each other space, listen closely and share as equal partners in the music, even at the surprise ending of the song “Charade”.
Despite the inclusion of a couple of up-tempo pieces like “Tangerine” and “Charade”, the overall mood of the album is slow, sad and longing best typified by “Embraced I”, the only original by Berardi, containing a large dose of saudade. It features lovely slow smooth phrases and sensitive guitar work and is perhaps their best work on the album.
“If I Only Had a Brain” cleverly uses a suspended chord at the end of the form instead of resolving to the more expected tonic, leaving a feeling of doubt and and just a dash of humour that works well in the song.
Exploring the different possibilities of the duo, the voice is used as texture only with no words over the repeated ostinato chords and an independent bass line in the piece “The bass”.
In “Budgie” by Vince Jones, Berardi recalls Rickie Lee Jones’ groove and swing and has attitude dripping from each delayed syllable.
With an overall length of 37 minutes, the CD leaves one wanting to hear more of the duo. It is well recorded by ABC Melbourne with rich lows and mediums, and clear trebles and available for purchase at the websites of both musicians.
Review by pianist and composer Chris Cody has performed and recorded internationally for the last 25 years while based in Paris. He has headlined at many international festivals including Paris Quartiers d’Eté, London, Rome, Brussels Jazz Marathon, Marciac, Nantes, and Algiers and at a vast array of concert venues throughout the USA, Europe and Africa. He has worked with many outstanding international musicians including Rick Margitza, Roy Hargrove, Glenn Ferris, Carla Bruni, Annie Whitehead, Tina Arena, Michel Jonaz, Rhoda Scott and Herb Geller.
With nine CDs of his music released on international labels he has received glowing reviews and featured on radio and television around the world, and has collaborated on over thirty other albums.
His compositions have been commissioned for the inauguration of the Australian Music Centre Paris, as well as for the Sydney Theatre Company, American Academy of Dance, Pillow Book Dance Company Pittsburg, and other French and American theatre companies, and he has composed the music for eight films, and several TV and Radio documentaries.
Chris Cody website
This article was originally published by The Music Trust.
The Music Trust has been set up to offer a flexible, creative, energetic response to the situation of music in Australia, with commitment to the best ideas for fostering excellence, innovation, and access. Founded in October 2013, it already has a substantial program including information, research, advocacy and project management.