2006 - National - Reviews

Jazz Wise

Can it really be 20 years since The Communards' disco anthem Don't Leave me This Way topped the charts? Celebrating 25 years in music, this limited edition 34-track double album from Sarah Jane Morris embraces everything from intimate acoustic sessions ( Nick Drake's haunting River Man) and live performances (Move on Up) to hip dancefloor remixes (It's Jesus I Love), huge stadium-sized arrangements (the anthemic Missing you and the outer-spacious Sunny) and the aforementioned number one hit. Elsewhere, there's the shimmering luminescence of Mercy, Mercy Me and a number of co-written songs including the memorably titled A Horse Named Janis Joplin. Heard continuously over a single sitting, this really is quite a mind blowing compilation, revelatory even.

The singer's range - both in terms of register and emotional nuance - and the unusually large textural palette of her voice combine to striking effect. It does leave you with the following question. Now a big pop star in Italy, does the singer's refusal to be corralled by genre and her absolute commitment to ploughing her own artistic furrow mean that she is, quite possibly one of the UK's great jazz singers manqué?

The Observer

Sarah Jane Morris, After All These Years

Britain's most underrated diva shows off her vocal range.

Neil Spencer Sunday November 12, 2006

If anyone understands anthems it's flame-haired, mahogany-voiced Morris. With the Communards she rebooted Thelma Houston's disco hymn 'Don't Leave Me This Way' to a global number one in 1986, and scored a BBC ban for her lesbian-kissed 'Me and Mrs Jones' three years later. This 2-CD retrospective offers a bossa version of the latter (with Marc Ribot on guitar), but is mainly a showcase of Morris's talents as jazz diva, as she explores Nick Drake, Chet Baker and Brecht with tenderness and grit. Her 'Mad Woman Blues', a tale of tragic cross-dressing, adds a shiver of modern pathos.
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