In their collaborative album, titled Bonjour Tristesse, versatile jazz singer Tatiana Eva-Marie and guitarist Michael Valeanu get back to the basics of making meticulous melodies that way they were always meant to be enjoyed, and across eleven deeply stirring songs, they make it clear that their keen attention to detail as a pair is only eclipsed by their shared love of this medium. In tracks like “They Say It’s Spring” and the gorgeous “La chanson des vieux Amants,” Eva-Marie delivers vocal stylings as potent as they are embracive of color and texture, while her partner in Valeanu backs up every verse with a string-born harmony few are likely to trump before the year’s end.
The tempered guitar play in “Can’t We Be Friends?,” “Why Try to Change Me Now?” and “On the Street Where You Live” definitely defines the mood of the music more than anything else does, and while the words we discover in these compositions are anything but unfeeling, there’s no debating whether or not they’re made even more human and tangible to us through the string melodies that contextualize their emotional core. The balance between lyrics and music is something to write home about all on its own, even without taking into account the understated moxie of the performers here.
As powerful as the instrumental melodies are in “Roses De Picardie,” “Get out of Town” and the memorable “Stardust,” I don’t know that any musical component could steal the thunder away from the lead vocal that drives all three of these songs home. Tatiana Eva-Marie has certainly proven in the past that she can issue a beautiful serenade whenever the mood strikes her – just take a peek at anything in her discography – but here, she seems just a bit more relaxed and in-tune with the energy of the instrumentation than she ever has before.
While the chemistry between these two is strong throughout the tracklist, some of the hottest sparks between Valeanu and Eva-Marie come in Bonjour Tristesse’s title track, “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” “East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)” and “Why Try to Change Me Now?.” Both of these players offer such a unique lust for the material here that you’ve got to wonder just how much they could rip through in a live setting, where the only limitation to their creativity would come in the form of the audience’s response to the music.
I’ve always been picky about jazz, as any serious music buff should be, and what Tatiana Eva-Marie and Michael Valeanu have done with Bonjour Tristesse is a spellbinding treasure for both aficionados and occasional fans of the genre alike. There are a lot of amazing artists coming out of the woodwork in 2020, but with regards to unfiltered talent and collaborative skill, I don’t believe I’ve head another pair – especially in jazz – quite as good as these two are. I’ll be looking out for more of their work both individually and collectively in the future, and I highly recommend you do the same.
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