Album Review: What's New

The Scotsman

Jim Gilchrist, 5th April 2020


No slight to suggest this warm-hearted album might have been tailor-made for self-isolation. It sees two well established figures, singer Ian Shaw and tenor saxophonist Iain Ballamy, joined by pianist Jamie Safir, the trio delving into the classic songbooks with instinctive skill yet also an ease which suggests they just strolled in from the street for a session.

Shaw's vocals, sliding between tenderness and emotional urgency, and Ballamy's rich, breathy sax knit together sweetly in songs such as Bacharach's You'll Never Get to Heaven, or unite in bittersweet rumination in the Bernstein number Some Other Time.

Safir, meanwhile, ranges exuberantly during You Stepped Out of a Dream or It Might As Well Be Spring as Shaw flips mischievously between sonorous and falsetto vocalising. There's real tenderness in Alfie, and in Ballamy's sublime lead-in to I'll Only Miss Him When I Think of Him.