Collette Cooper, singer, actor, and activist released her album Lost on the 4th of December 2020 on the independent Thelonious Punk Records label. Three of the six tracks are written by Collette, one is co-written with Mike Hanson and Nick Pratelli. The other two tracks are covers of songs by Jay Hawkins, and Bryan Ferry.
From classic jazz and raw blues, with vaudeville overtones and a sprinkling of punk for good measure, Collette Cooper is a versatile artist who has achieved the rare feat of combining multifarious influences to create something that is very much her own. Collette’s style has been described as ‘Janis Joplin channelling Edith Piaf.’Album release press pack
The album opens with the self-penned ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ and straightaway we are in cabaret territory with the voice of Collette reminding me of the wonderful Eartha Kitt. It is the timbre of Collette’s vocals that grabbed my attention: there is a rasping quality that grounds the tune to the blues and the phrasing is simply wonderful. George Muryani and Graeme Flowers play beautiful accompaniment on the piano and trumpet respectfully.
Jay Hawkins’ classic ‘I Put a Spell on You’ is, for me, the stand-out track of the album. Collette’s vocal range and emotional connection to the lyrics are sublime. Sam Taylor’s piano playing perfectly supports Collette’s tonality, but it is the use of the muted trumpet that really makes this version stand out. Most versions of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ make use of the saxophone in the horn solo but Kevin Davy’s trumpet gives this track a poignancy that I don’t feel when listening to other versions of this tune.
‘Lost Soul’ is an out and out blues number complete with Steve Counsel’s great harmonica sound. This is terrific group playing from the musicians and Collette’s blues voice is in full throttle: my local blues club would love this one. They would probably enjoy ‘Outta My Mind’ as well: the tune opens with Mike Hanson on guitar, the sound is then filled out with the piano of Sam Taylor and Dan Lipman on sax. Steve Counsel blows hard on the harmonica and produces a full-bodied sound that is a joy to hear. The bass of Francois Morea and drums of Andrea Trillo and Cyro Zuzi are solid over both tracks.
The “sprinkling of punk” on this album can be heard on ‘Perfect Girl’ where Collette Cooper channels Hazel O’Connor in vocal tone. For this tune think Christopher Isherwood and Goodbye to Berlin: the use of bowed bass, violin, and accordion all add to the cabaret setting first alluded to in the album’s opening track. This is a hauntingly beautiful track very well paced, played, and sung.
The sixth track, ‘Street Life’, written by Bryan Ferry, is a great end to the album. As throughout the album, George Muryani is on fine form at the piano but is the horns of Dan Lipman and Steve Davy that stand out – some particularly fine trumpet notes can be heard on this track. Collette’s vocals give the tune a palpable world-weary sound that perfectly match the lyrics she is singing.
All singers and musicians draw on musical influences but make no mistake, Collette Cooper is a unique voice. It is the timbre of her vocals that make her stand out; the way she uses tone and vocal range brings something to her music that is emotionally grounded and discernible. I would not hesitate, if given the opportunity, to see this lady perform live but in the meantime I shall make do with this formidable album.
All proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to Nordiff Robins a musical therapy charity in the UK:
1. Don’t Throw Your Love Away; 2. I Put A Spell on You; 3. Lost Soul; 4. Outta My Mind; 5. Perfect Girl; 6. Street Life.
Piano – George Muranyi (tracks 1,3,5 & 6), Sam Taylor (tracks 2 & 4); Double Bass – Francois Moreau; Trumpet – Graeme Flowers (track 1), Kevin Davy (tracks 2,3 & 6); Drums – Cyro Zuzi (track 1,2 & 4) Andrea Trillo (track 3); Harmonica – Steve Counsel (track 3); Saxophone – Dan Lipman (tracks 3, 4 & 6); Lead guitar – Mike Hanson (track 4); Violin – Frank Biddulph (track 5); Accordion – Martina Swharz (track 5); Backing vocals – Simon King and Dan Lipman (track 6).