ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things is discovering new music while I’m working on my assignments and recently, one of those discoveries happened while I was thinking of what I wanted to write about for this week’s page.
Especially recently, I’ve been more into bossa nova jazz for background noise while I’m working and earlier this week, while I was listening to that, I inadvertently clicked on a video for a new song of Kate Ceberano, a jazz singer who’s been in the music business in Australia for several years. The song was from her new album “My Life Is A Symphony” in conjunction with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and after the song I accidentally clicked on, I knew I immediately had to listen to the rest of the album, which I later found out was actually released last week. The entire album is almost akin to a greatest hits album and has 10 songs ranging from her different albums throughout Ceberano’s career.
The album begins with her song “Brave,” and I loved everything about this song – the opening instrumentals from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are fierce yet soothing at the same time and complements Ceberano’s vocals (which are powerful and absolutely ooze her passion) so, so well. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra provided the perfect accompaniment and admittedly made my band geek heart pretty happy. The album then continues with “Earth & Sky,” which is also full of feeling – the song is a less melodramatic breakup song and focuses on how couples just drift apart sometimes through no fault of anyone involved. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra again provides the perfect accompaniment, and the song is sad yet rather soaring at the same time, which is great.
The album then continues with “Time To Think,” which was one of my overall favorites from the album. The lyrics seem rather random and out there (“Don't forget to check the microwave/The dinner’s hot, the cats been fed/The milk is off you might need to go to the store”), but I feel like it pretty perfectly captures those thoughts that pop into one’s head after a breakup about what feels like the most random stuff, which I can actually somewhat relate to after some happenings in my personal life recently. Overall, it’s a great song that demonstrates how thoughts are just so jumbled at the end of a breakup and no one really knows what to do. The next two songs, “Pash” and “Courage” are great love songs and really paint a picture of how things feel in a relationship, with “Pash” being more at the beginning of a relationship (i.e. what some refer to as the ‘honeymoon phase’) and “Courage” taking place a little ways into the relationship when someone has a touch of anxiety and might be wondering if their new boyfriend/girlfriend actually still cares about them after getting to know them a bit. The album continues with “Louis’ Song,” which was another particular favorite of mine. It’s so, so sweet and it’s a great dedicatory song to a loved one, and it almost reminded me of “Dear Theodosia” from “Hamilton” in some ways. The orchestra is wonderful and totally elevates this song to almost a Broadway-esque song, which you all know I have zero problem with.
The next few songs on the album are great for painting mental pictures, starting with “Sympathy,” which is another song where Ceberano’s powerful vocals and the orchestra blend just so, so well. After listening to this one, I couldn’t fully decide if this was a song about leaving a bad relationship or wanting to avoid talking to people after a major tragedy, but it’s gut-wrenchingly good either way. Then, with “Sunburn,” it’s a fantastic summer song and I could all but feel the sand from the beach with the warm air and sea breeze and the heat – however, I feel like this should have had more of a lighter pop tone (think Taylor Swift or somewhere along those lines) than a full orchestra sound behind it. The album continues with “Cherry Blossom Lipstick,” which is sweet and sultry and would make an absolutely perfect date night song, and it’s very evocative of a candlelight dinner/dinner club scene. With that in mind, the saxophone parts REALLY get to shine, which I absolutely loved. The album’s final song, “Champion,” is a great closer because it’s super empowering and can be interpreted in a few different ways, which the orchestra REALLY sells throughout at the song’s higher and lower points. I personally interpreted it as a song that takes place during a rough patch of a relationship and the couple is reminding each other they’ll be there for each other as time goes on.
Overall, I enjoyed “My Life Is A Symphony” and would give it a solid “A” grade. I loved Ceberano’s vocals throughout the album, they’re lovely and powerful and you can hear the passion in each phrase, and she’s complemented perfectly by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The songs are great to listen to and evoked several feelings while I was listening, and this album is definitely one I’ll listen to again. If you’re a fan of jazz, this would be a great album to cue up.