The new album Crossing released earlier this month by Australian-American soprano Jane Sheldon and Julian Curwin playing guitar, is an engaging collection of 11 songs composed by the two performers, joined by Shenton Gregory playing the viola and percussionist Jess Ciampa.
Made by indie label Romero Records, Crossing contains love songs, a lullaby, an ode to Ophelia, vocalise and songs of introspection sung in French, Spanish and English, with English translations in the supporting information. The words are mostly derived from Renaissance poetry. Sheldon and Curwin have infused their music with filmic elements, folk song, early music, and chanson. It is an eminently listenable and relaxing experience.
The melodies appealing in their plaintiveness, perfectly suit Jane Sheldon’s dreamy, lucent voice – soaring effortlessly in the higher registers and showing a beautifully anchored, rich, middle and lower range. Known for her experimental approach to the voice as well as her mastery of early style, Sheldon uses her voice in novel ways to convey her meaning. Her singing is supremely controlled, silken smooth and consistent. Curwin’s guitar playing is gently sympathetic sometimes providing arpeggiated support collaborating with the melody and the barest minimum of notes at others, sometimes dissonant and sometimes conjuring up vivid Andalusian motifs.
Shenton Gregory’s viola lends an early music feel to the songs and Jess Ciampa contributes rhythm and texture variously on bass drum, crotales, bowed vibraphone, tambour, bells, tambourine and others.
Crossing is a collection of music that lives up to its name. It crosses boundaries. Or perhaps it represents the musicians on their journey as they traverse convention and style. Instinct tells me it is best not to think to hard on it. The innocent beauty of the performance speaks for itself.
Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©