Germany - Full Moon 213 - 01/16/14
It's been more than 3 moonths since Sahara was launched. I did check in on the teasing single track, "Fools
Rush In" back in August but forgot to return to the album. Until now.
Judy Willms and Jan Gazzara are Forgotten Birds, a two-some based in Hamburg. Judy's got a lovely voice (to quote the press sheet it can
only be compared to "...a 15 year old whiskey drunk from a champagne glass..."), backed with Jan's well-balanced melodies. Gazzara originally
hails from Stuttgart. He started out as a Neil Young wannabe at an early age, when picking up his first guitar. After some stray time in
Spain in his late teens, he relocated to Hamburg. Gazzara has also been into house and techno, but has now calmed down musically. He has
earlier put out a couple of solo albums; I've Come to See You Once Again (Ladomat2000, in 2002), and Love Rules (Sunday Service,
2006). The first one held a cover version of Prince's "Pop Life". Now, along with Judy Willms the two-some explore the calm country-folk-rock
path with a certain hint of electronica. Their debut album, Sahara holds ten songs: seven originals, the traditional song "Rose Of
Trallee", as well as two classics: the aforementioned single, "Fools Rush In" (Reuben Bloom/Johnny Mercer), plus "Windmills Of Your Mind"
(by Michel Legrand/Marilyn Bergman). The latter being the Academy Award winner (Best Original Song) from the 1968 film, The Thomas Crown
Sahara was produced by producer/artist/musician Jörg Follert (a.k.a. 17 Pictures, Wechsel Garland, Motel, Saucer, and Wunder),
after a one week recording session at German artist/author/entertainer Rocko Schamoni's cabin by the Baltic Sea. Among the extra musicians
were bass-player Marcin Öz (of German-Norwegian combo The Whitest Boy Alive) and drummer Axel Jensen. Producer Follert added some bass,
keyboards, and glockenspiel, while Willms (vocals, drums, organ, melodica) and Gazzara (guitars, vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, bass) are
the main performers, of course. Sahara hold pleasing melodies and smooth arrangements. 'When
the Birds play, knees go soft,' according to the label, Karaoke Kalk. The Birds are slightly reminiscent of some other 'moody' duos,
such as Dean & Britta (former Galaxie 500 and Luna 'headmaster' Dean Wareham and his wife Britta Phillips), or She
& Him, but in addition to that Forgotten Birds have got some Beach House and Mazzy Star vibes as well. Wills and Gazzara do alright,
but Sahara doesn't make my eyebrows raise skyhigh, I'm afraid. It's nice, though, especially songs like "Brooklyn Bridge", "The Aliceband",
and "Ballroom". And, yes, "Fools Rush In" is quite cool.
Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen