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Music Review: Ran Blake and Christine Correa – Out of the Shadows

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As the second collaboration between Ran Blake and Christine Correa, Out of the Shadows is one of those rare albums that walk the line between the truly feral and the truly sophisticated.

Pianist Blake and vocalist Correa have created something majestic with these 14 pieces, journeying into the wildness of Monk and the mournfulness of Decca-era Billie Holliday and the audacity of, well yeah, Christine Correa.

As good as Blake’s piano playing is, it’s Correa’s remarkable vocals that I can’t keep my ears off of. Her tone is impeccable and her searching interpretation of the lyrics of each song is remarkable. She is an unquestionably honest singer, too, and that sincerity shines through the darkness like piercing headlights on a forest road.

It’s not surprising that Correa and Blake have worked together before, nor is it surprising that they’re great friends. Their relationship is present and obvious with each note and each segment. Blake knows how to play elegantly with Correa’s voice, while Correa is more than aware of the pianist’s ability to exceed the material with his own heightened perceptions of sound and depth.

All good records provide challenges and Out of the Shadows is no different.

Correa’s vocals are often so emotional that they prove to be nearly off-putting, as though we are all witnesses to something we are not supposed to experience in such vivid clarity. Yet there’s nothing accidental or weird about the way this gifted vocalist pulls her notes out into the open, mind you, and there’s nothing wrong with a little classic musical voyeurism either.

The record begins with the title track, a delicate piece of music that builds tension and plays beautifully. Perfectly, the record closes with an exquisite a capella version of the song.

“Deep Song,” with its five part song form, plays like an elegant, smoky torch song, while the scorching plainness of “Una Matica De Ruda” heads in the other direction and is shocking in its range and audacity.

Out of the Shadows plays with darkness and light, heroically cascading between various musical forms without losing the thread of honesty and integrity within. It is a shocking, beautiful, strange piece of work from Correa and Blake and it has been haunting my speakers for several days now with its ethereal, graceful qualities.

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