Review: Somewhere Towards Love
John Fordham, 11th December 2009
Ian Shaw, the Welsh singer/pianist (and sometime comic, actor and Charlotte Church vocal coach) loves the heartache ballads that usually put off contemporary jazz audiences. But his humanity, -technique, wit and willingness to take an insane gamble has always kept him in the jazz loop. What you get with Shaw is always really him - sometimes funny, sometimes resigned, sometimes wounded, sometimes over the top, but always technically immaculate - and not a cool clone of how a contemporary crooner ought to sound. His own excellent title track on this set (which features just his voice and mostly functional piano-playing) sounds like a canny old Broadway saloon-wisdom song with a distantly Elton John spin. The cheese-trap of Here's to Life is delivered gracefully straight, Nick Cave's Into My Arms is moving yet lightly touched, and You Must Believe in Spring and Who Can I Turn To? have a riveting intensity. More of the jaunty swing feel of Fran Landesman's Just Having Fun would have been welcome, and a Shaw album made with Kurt Elling accompanist -Laurence Hobgood is the kind of dream-team fantasy this album invokes. But it's a high-class -performance of timelessly high-class songs.