And "Mean Old Circus" makes me think of some Judy Garland movie. The xylophones, circus organs, and her voice merge to provide yet another genre. She dons them as easily as changing hats. Beneath the kid-friendly sound, however, there's a darker purpose to the words - "A revelation ...for conversation / A new permission for my religion / A sleeping lion’s lion dream / In my forsaken evil schemes..." What is she really after here? Escaping to the circus may simply be a cover for more nefarious plans.
Evidently Gaby taught herself to speak better English by singing blues, R&B, and soul classics from artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Aretha Franklin. "I learned English from blues records," she says. "I'd read the lyrics, then go to my dictionary. In school, we studied basic English, but the records made me interested in learning it and singing it."
Moreno is backed up by a terrific band featuring Sebastian Aymanns (drums), Leslie Lowe (bass) and an ensemble of renowned musicians including Greg Leisz (electric guitar, Mandolin, Lap Steel), Big Band leader Bob Mintzer (bass clarinet), Larry Goldings (celeste, piano), Patrick Warren (piano, keyboards), Mark Goldenberg (guitars) David Piltch (upright bass), Conan O'Brien's horn section - Mark Pender (trumpet), Jerry Vivino (tenor sax), Richard "La Bamba" Rosenberg (trombone), and Adam Schroeder (baritone sax) - and string, horn and woodwind arrangements by Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann, Grant Lee Phillips and Amy Correia ). It's a huge band that reminds me of the big band era of the 1940s but has all the other genres and playing styles at their beck and call as well.
Gaby Moreno seems to be a lady out of time, bringing classic '40s, '50s, '60s, and other styles back to the people. If you're looking for something to wile away a lazy Sunday, Illustrated Songs should be on your list to pick up. I love it when modern artists seek to rejuvenate the past and can't wait to see what else lies in store for her. Illustrated Songs will be released on April 5, 2011 with a tour to follow. To learn more check out Gaby's website.