Shaw's second album on Jazz Village, following on from his 2016 Downbeat nominated The Theory Of Joy, is a celebration of the actions and art of extraordinary women. Avoiding the usual jazz suspects, he picks a selection of songs by the likes of Phoebe Snow, Peggy Lee, Gwyneth Herbert and, his favourite, Joni Mitchell, as well as a handful of his own compositions, two of which, in English and French versions, are based on his devoted work for refugees. To each he brings his easily swinging and open-hearted vocals that become emotionally raw in places, inhabiting each song to maximum effect.
If I have a complaint about this set, it is that he plays piano on only three of the songs. When I saw him live recently at Brighton's Verdict club, what struck me most was his piano playing, which was far from mere accompaniment and took on a vivid, independent life of its own, almost upstaging every song he sang. Here, piano duties are mainly in the hands of the capable but quiet Barry Green, with an excellent Mick Hutton on bass to add depth. As a set, the songs are mainly in the pop and soul genres, but Shaw's impassioned voice elevates them all. A great triumph.