Tales from the Tiki Lounge

Tales from the Tiki Lounge
The latest offering from Duke Robillard and Sunny Crownover is called Tales from the Tiki Lounge and although it’s presented as a Les Paul – Mary Ford tribute cd, many listeners will find that it’s really a crossover blues/jazz/mambo/predominantly ‘lounge’ album that will appeal to a myriad of listeners. (There’s a hefty helping of Latin throughout incidentally, so get your heels ready – or you know, not. You know who you are.)

I hate the genre definition “easy listening” – and I have no intention of using it now – but for those who have a positive take on what that means, this really is that kind of album and there's a kind of old fashioned, inherent sweetness about it.

Regular readers will already know from past reviews that Duke Robillard is one of my favourites so I watch for his new releases keenly and I say, teaming up with Sunny Crownover has definitely been an inspired choice for him – also, they are both clearly having a blast and so likeminded it’s uncanny. You can hear the musical syncronicity. Here are my key tracks:

Sway There’s two versions of this featured on the same cd although the second, (the re-mix in fact) has been suitably kicked up enough to warrant its inclusion. There’s loads of sweeping reverb here, clean separation and a good dose of latent sensuality thrown in for good measure – listen to the attention to detail (self consciously retro at times) but mastered with the usual perfectionism you’d expect from Robillard. Ramped up to the max this (re-mix) would not be out of place at a club – Robillard fans may be very surprised (as the liner notes suggest) at the arrangement here but beware hardcore blues listeners, because some of you will just not be able to make this leap to Mambo-town. Listen up for Mark Teixeira’s cowbell though – seriously cool …

I’m Still in Love with You True-blues number that does not disappoint. Crownover’s vocals are a pitch-perfect breathy match for Robillard’s skilful guitar and Sunny’s delivery is world weary, earnest and plaintive all at the same time. A definite keeper. Is someone shaking martinis somewhere because they should be …

Romance in the Dark This is an unapologetic, full on romantic tune as the title suggests. Can I tell you that no one gets more mileage out of the word ‘thrill’ than Sunny Crownover – this is a very sexy number and puts me in mind of secret after hour dinner parties for two. (Duke plays his 51 Gibson ES-350 for the electric track and switches it up to his own 46 Epiphone Broadway for the acoustic in case you’d like to know).

Besame Mucho The insistent, sexy bass that opens this number swells into a full orchestration complete with bongos. Very Latin, very smouldering. Listen to that word “thrill” again …

Occidental Woman is an extremely unique, inspired choice. This track could easily be my favourite if only for its swanky, New Orleans-inspired cheekiness. The song was done in the thirties by Mae West (you can check out that version on youtube) but truly Sunny does make the piece her own. The beginning crackles with the faux charm of a 78 recording and then morphs into the current day. Brilliant! Girl, get out those ostrich plumes and strut your stuff as you make dinner to this one …

Click on the icon below to sample the songs reviewed here. Enjoy!

* Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, I received this CD to review free of charge from the artists.

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