Song comments [pdf] A few details about the songs
Lyrics [pdf] “I crave your bewitching foyer…'”
Produced by Lorraine Feather, Carlos Del Rosario, Geoff Gillette, and Eddie Arkin
Lyrics and vocals by Lorraine Feather
Music by Eddie Arkin, Shelly Berg, Russell Ferrante, and Dave Grusin
Piano: Russell Ferrante, Shelly Berg, Dave Grusin; bass: Michael Valerio; drums: Michael Shapiro, Gregg Field; guitar: Grant Geissman, Eddie Arkin; violin: Charles Bisharat
Cover, graphics and booklet design: Michael Ticcino
Photography: Mikel Healey
Publicist: Michael Bloom
Radio promotion: Michael Carlson
Flirting with Disaster
Lorraine Feather [is] jazz’s savviest self-chronicler …the songs on Flirting With Disasterquiver with vulnerability … Feather’s lyrics tell us this album is a “wild ride from bliss to despair.” We should be grateful to have been invited along.
Funny, sardonic, wise and occasionally wistful … dangerously thrilling … like love, a wildly unpredictable journey
erie … beautiful … The entire album feels like a one-woman play. It could be a Broadway musical soundtrack or the best night you’ve had at a jazz club ever.
A combination of Mystery Theaterand the female equivalent of O. Henry … endlessly entertaining, tight hairpin lyrical turns, and surprising emotional cliffhangers that leave listeners both devastated and rejuvenated.
She works sans net, fearless and supremely confident about what she’s offering, risks be damned.
All About Jazz
The lyrics are sometimes wonderfully touching, but sometimes harshly realistic. Regardless of the melody or the lyrics, the star is Feather.
11 impressive songs, each with its own strength and beauty … the ballads on this recording are just stunning. Lorraine Feather continues to grow as a lyricist, vocalist, arranger, performer and human being.
A Tom Waits-Mort Sahl kind of jazzer …thoughtful, winsome and yet swinging … cerebral, yet also celebratory stuff.
George W. Harris
She is the most talented little-known master in all of American vernacular music at the moment, mind-bogglingly literate and witty and unlike anyone … some of the coolest song lyrics by any singer/songwriter alive.
Lorraine Feather, accomplished singer and songwriter, is to me one of those who are, in Duke’s phrase, ‘beyond category.’ Flirting with Disastercontinues her progression … a poetic universal … a golden voice of great character and musicality.
Her voice is flexible and nuanced; she can whisper, speak rhythmically, hit the high notes pure and clear … whatever is necessary to deliver the lyrics with the most fascinating effect. Lorraine Feather is my new Joni.
On Flirting With Disaster, her first album of entirely love songs, Feather hits it out of the park.
Blinded By Sound
Miss Feather proves yet again that her sense of musical adventure and originality is without limit.
͞Zany observations ... a conversational ease ... suggests Dave Frishberg in double time, mixed with the antic playfulness of Jon Hendricks.
Stephen Holden - The New York Times
͞Stunning complexities ... tricky inner rhymes, offbeat stories ... astonishing vocal dexterity.
Don Heckman - The Los Angeles Times
͞Great jazz lyricists are not easy to find ... Feather can turn a phrase with the best of them. Her nimble style does justice to both melody and lyrics.
Howard Reich - Chicago Tribune
͞Her stuff glitters and gleams and makes you think of Dorothy Parker or Norah Ephron ... Feather͛s voice is intimate and agile ... her words witty, nostalgic, critical, fanciful, bitchy and romantic by turns.
Tony Gieske - The Hollywood Reporter
͞Energetic, enchanting, and exceptional ... She͛s utterly comfortable and confident ... sings her meticulous, clever poetry in a silvery, light voice.
Carol Sloane - DOWNBEAT
͞What can be said that hasn͛t already been said of Lorraine Feather? A pop and fizz worthy of Annie Ross at the height of her vocalese powers ... pure genius.
Christopher Loudon - Jazz Times
͞Intricate and intelligent ... her delivery easy but never facile ... Lorraine Feather͛s voice, lyrics, and original point of view measure up to her roots.
Elzy Kolb - Jazziz
͞Easily one of the most creative lyricists of her generation ... Feather͛s skills as an actress and her infectious, versatile voice add to her appeal.
Ken Dryden - All Music Guide
͞A natural storyteller ... delivering her clever verbal conceits with marvelous clarity.
͞To simply call her a singer, detracts from what truly sets her apart ... her ability to put into words the small and profound incongruities of life.
Hugo Kugiya - The Seattle Times
͞She shares a remarkable skill with Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Ira Gershwin ... but Feather goes a different direction with her talents ... twisted humor ... a nouveau bebop sound ...
Bob Karlovits - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
͞What a joy, what a delight ... surprise-filled lyrics ...[her songs] seem to shimmer between past and present ...
Chip Deffaa - The New York Post
͞Emotional, sardonic, hilariously poignant and piquant ...The lyrics are evocative and deeply imbued with her edgy trademarks ...
Carl Hager - All About Jazz
͞Lorraine Feather is that rare artist who can make time stand still ... She could very well be the O. Henry of jazz.
Carol Banks Weber
͞Brooding, dark, mournful and fun ... that Feather has hit her full musical maturity is beyond question; that she has hit her peak is still in doubt.
Thomas R. Erdmann
͞Very strange and marvelous ... [her] vocal control is breathtaking ...Feather passionately shows that what we conceal reveals more than what we display.
Steve Horowitz - PopMatters
͞Paints imaginative word pictures that are rhythmically complex, yet as clear as her voice.
Bill Falconer - Coda
͞Fierce wit and literacy ... probably the most unusual singer in America, [and] the most underrated musical figure around.
Jeff Simon - Buffalo News
͞Finds the sweet spot where Kurt Weil, jazz period Joni Mitchell and Dave Frishberg might have collaborated ... simply a mind-blower.
Chris Spector - Midwest Record
͞A hip, happening, very unusual approach to jazz ... wonderfully offbeat.
Paul Freeman - San Jose Mercury News
͞Much more than a mere jazz singer ... one of the most exceptional lyric-writers of our day, a sort of hipper, post-modern Lorenz Hart.
Lynn René Bayley - Fanfare
͞Remarkable. The songs conform abstract thought into song ... ingenious vocal acrobatics.
Tom Danna - PM Magazine
She's one courageous writer. She executes this high-wire act without a net and lands on her feet every time.
͞The most skillful of the new crop of lyricists ... her work blooms and stands out from the rest.
More than any other contemporary singer or songwriter, Lorraine Feather has captured the heart and soul of the contemporary "I".
A Perfect Album from a Brilliant, Multi-Talented Artist
Musical Performance: 5-stars
Sound Quality: 5-stars
Overall Enjoyment: 5-stars
Lorraine Feather was born into music. Her father was Leonard Feather, a jazz pianist, composer, and producer who is best remembered for his journalism — writing reviews and album notes pertaining to jazz. Her mother was a singer in the big-band era and an ex-roommate of Peggy Lee. And her godmother was none other than Billie Holiday. Being blessed with genes and attention from the best offers no guarantee that one will come out ahead, but in Lorraine Feather’s case everything took, and she has become one of the most brilliant and multi-talented artists performing today.
Feather writes wonderful lyrics, and her first albums were often devoted to lyrics that she’d set to instrumental classics by such artists as Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. Lately she’s been collaborating with more contemporary composers, and Attachments is the pinnacle of this period. The album is absolutely impossible to fault. Not only are Feather’s lyrics vibrant and true, but her singing is that of a master interpreter completely in control of her instrument. She has perfect diction. Though all of the lyrics are printed in the booklet that accompanies the CD, you won’t need it to understand every word. Moreover, her voice is lovely and appealing. As both a writer and performer, she has it all.
The music collaborators on Attachments are well known to jazz followers, and Dave Grusin, Russell Ferrante, Eddie Arkin, and Shelly Berg all play on various cuts. Attachments is the title of both the album and its second song, and it indicates that Feather’s lyrics are about “the connections we have or form as we go along in life — to our families, friends, lovers, to animals, to places.”
The styles range from wistful ballad (‘I Hope I Never Leave This Place’) to saucy romp (‘I Love You Guys,’ a remembrance of jazz musicians that even tosses a line or two to her husband, drummer Tony Morales). The instrumentation varies as well. Most of the songs include piano, and there are some beautiful contributions from violinist Charlie Bisharat, as well as a very significant one from bass clarinetist Bob Mintzer.
Feather’s lyrics can be sharp as a tack, and they can say something in a way we’ve never heard before, but that seems absolutely right:
You called it love.
What moved you more
Was the quiet scratch
At your entry door,
Was the longtime friend
You thought you’d keep,
Who suddenly cut you
The recorded sound is lush, with lots of presence and just the right amount of reverb. Balances are spot-on and vocal overdubs are skillfully done. Overall, the sound seems ideal for the arrangements. Given the performances and the sound, Attachments should be a given for a Grammy nomination.
Be sure to listen to: The final cut, ‘True,’ finds Feather putting lyrics to Dave Grusin’s arrangement from Bach’s third orchestral suite. The accompaniment is just Grusin on the piano and Bisharat on violin, and the results are ethereal and tremendously moving. I’ll be playing it a lot.
—Rad Bennett, Soundstage Experience
4 1/2 stars
Lorraine Feather is easily one of the most creative lyricists of her generation, and since earning a Grammy nomination for her 2010 CD Ages, the vocalist has gained greater attention from writers who had previously overlooked her contributions. Every one of her CDs is a treat, full of surprising, often humorous song topics and devoid of predictable Moon/June assembly line lyrics, while Feather’s skills as an actress and her infectious, versatile voice add to her appeal.Tales of the Unusual is no exception, with stories that at times test one’s imagination and occasionally flirt with a creepy air. Most of the musicians appearing on Tales of the Unusual have worked with Feather on her earlier recordings, withRussell Ferrante and Shelly Berg alternating on piano. ‘Indiana Lana’ is her vocal setting of Duke Ellington’s ‘Jubilee Stomp,’ first recorded for her CD Dooji Wooji.
This new version is a duet, with Feather’s lively vocal romp about the speedy female runner accompanied by Berg, who shows off his masterful stride chops. The mysterious ‘Out There’ keeps revealing hidden facets as Feather’s lyric unfolds, as does Berg’s captivating tune.
Her haunting ‘I Took Your Hand’ (which adds a lyric to Italian jazz pianist Enrico Pieranunzi’s ‘Fellini’s Waltz’) is a magical ballad with a shimmering backdrop featuring violinist Charles Bisharat’s elegant playing. Ferrante begins ‘The Hole in the Map’ with an eerie flavor, though it quickly takes a comic turn as Feather shares her tale of exploring the Amazon.
‘Get a Room’ is a hilarious swinger that would be a choice song for a romantic comedy. Her tale describes two lovers so taken with one another that everyone they encounter makes the obvious suggestion, while the solos by Berg, guitarist Mike Miller, and Bisharat add to its playfulness. Only Feather can pen a song about a street person writing a love letter on the sidewalk in chalk, as she does in ‘Sweet Miriam,’ while Eddie Arkin’s music is the perfect blend of jaunty nostalgia from the 1920s with Michael Valerio’s delicious arco bass underneath her mesmerizing vocal. Tales of the Unusual demonstrates that Lorraine Feather is not content to settle into a comfort zone; instead, she continues to grow as a lyricist and singer as she tackles new musical challenges with her collaborators.
— Ken Dryden, All Music
4 1/2 stars
Lorraine Feather, unlike any jazz singer on the scene, is pushing her formidable abilities to their maximum, dining and dancing on a bed of life stories that modern men and women can relate to. Essentially sophisticated metropolitan tales, Feather expands her novel-length treatises far beyond mere chapter and verse of love and loss, into an arena so compelling and emotionally involved, one feels as if they were songs with every listener in mind. She’s also blessed with a keen ear for extraordinary accompanists who also co-write the music aside her lyric content, including pianists Russell Ferrante or Shelly Berg, guitarist Eddie Arkin, bassist Michael Valerio, and several fine guest soloists.
The thing about these songs that truly sets them apart is they are based on pure inspiration, far removed from being based on any preconception of any jazz standards — a true (if you’ll please excuse the pun) feather in her cap. She’s also using an exceptional range from high sailing to deepest low, but not obsidian levels, leaping octaves only when the mood fits, but not for simple pyrotechnical effect. As playful and lithe as she is clever, her voice suits the mood and intent of the humorous song ‘A Lot to Remember’ as she references things happening in threes and going from ‘zero to sixty’ in her long listings. The hip funk of ‘Old at 18/Dog Bowl’ also runs down a veritable database of reasons why, in a mosaic that displays her more legato voicings. There are three duets, including a waltz alongside Ferrante — ‘The Girl with the Lazy Eye,’ the story where the young person’s grades are mediocre, raising more questions than answers — while with pianist Dick Hyman, ‘Scrabble’ is a scrambling parlor scat, jumpy and quick, whipping through words. ‘Peculiar Universe’ is atypically melancholy for the upbeat Feather, as she operates in a Kurt Weill/Bertold Brecht world with Béla Fleck on banjo, as is Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘Perugia,’ arranged by Ferrante, another waltz dripping with regret over lost love and soul.
But Feather ups the emotional quotient even higher during ‘How Did We End Up Here?,’ as she, Ferrante, and vibraphonist Bob Leatherbarrow work a samba to a tick-tock beat with drummer and percussionist Michael Shapiro. Starting off light, but delving into a heavy emotional introspection as a married couple enjoy a tropical get-away, Feather creates something so powerfully intimate, pondering life, fate, and circumstance — it’s her crowning achievement on this disc, and maybe of her entire career.
To say Lorraine Feather has created a triptych of experiences from adolescence to adulthood on this overview of the human condition through various ages is simplistic. What she has done is dig deep into the psyche of all of us through herself, creating a stunning recording that once again trumps the other excellent albums she has made. Asking ‘How did we end up here?,’ the listener has to pose this question in retort — ‘Is the sky the limit?,’ and ‘How high is that sky?’
— Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
Lorraine is the equal of not just her esteemed papa but also of such top-drawer wordsmiths as Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg. Like such masters, she is particularly skilled at observational humor derived from the mundane aspects of everyday life. But Feather’s whip-smart skills aren’t limited to sophisticated witticisms, as here evidenced by a sweet, delicate homage to Billy Strayhorn (‘In Flower’) and a rosy rendering of yuletide Manhattan (‘I Love New York at Christmas’) that is actually a heart-wrenching snapshot of a crumbling relationship.
—Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times
In this age of press releases and e-mails, not to mention iPods and iTunes, it’s amazing how many compact disks promoting artists new and old still find their way into our mailboxes. Sometimes these arrivals include a true gem. NPR’s special correspondent Susan Stamberg got such a musical delivery the other day …it’s called Language.
‘We’ve struggled offensively,’ I never thought I’d hear that in a song, but of course it has a perfect right to be there in a compendium of sports clichés … [as well as] ‘regrettable away-game incident.’ Wonderfully smart renditions. They do repay study. We’re still enjoying discovering some of the neat words on Lorraine’s earlier releases!
—Russell Davies, BBC Radio
Mellifluous phraseology … chicly utilized clichés … one of Feather’s best attributes is allowing the listener to feel as if they’re having an intimate conversation with her … [her] musicality truly speaks on a visceral level.
—Grant Lasher, Jazziz
Her talent as a lyricist of wit, sarcasm, and keen observations of the American human condition is her true strength…This may very well be Lorraine Feather’s best effort. Bravo, Lorraine.”
—Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
A chip off the old block, Feather is the daughter of critic/producer Leonard Feather. She’s at ease within her musical skin, singing her deceptively light, fresh lyrics to swing era chestnuts with delicacy, fluency and sly fun. Tongue-in-cheek? You betcha, but deliciously savvy. Listen to Feather tell charming, hilarious tales as tiny tots in pink tutus tiptoe at ballet school (“Remembering to Breathe”). She also brags about her subway skills, or recalls in tango a fleeting seaside romance. Meticulous charts and Feather’s pinpoint execution nudge these gems beyond novelty, urging later listenings.
—Fred Bouchard, Down Beat
Ever since the 2001 release of her Fats Waller-themed New York City Drag, Lorraine Feather has remained the traffic cop at the intersection of uninhibited inspiration and joyous musical fun. Indeed, after last year’s brilliant sojourn through Ellingtonia with the dazzling Such Sweet Thunder, it’s hard to imagine Feather outdoing the creative voodoo she’s summoned thus far. Hard, that is, until you wade into Dooji Wooji (Sanctuary) and hear her conjure a dozen new magical flights of fancy…How can you not love the comically rhythmic roadmap that is her ‘I Know the Way to Brooklyn’ or be enchanted by the faux sophistication of her ‘On the Esplanade’ or luxuriate in the warm rays of her brilliance as she tucks every known Hawaiian musical cliche into her cheek as she transforms the Ellington title tune into ‘Sweet Honolulu?’ As Feather proves for the fourth time, she is the one-woman jazz equivalent of Extreme Makeover—a lyrical Ty Pennington tricked out in Dorothy Parker drag.
—Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times
What can be said that hasn’t already been said in praise of Lorraine Feather? Three years ago, with her disc New York City Drag, she proved herself the sort of vocalist who would’ve earned five-star reviews from the legendary critic who was her dad. The following year she dazzled us as both a singer and lyricist with Cafe Society, featuring her words fitted to famous jazz compositions, Ellington’s ‘Creole Love Call’ and ‘Rockin’ in Rhythm’ among them. Now, with Such Sweet Thunder (Sanctuary) she rises to new heights by taking a full-length dive into Ellingtonia.<br /><br /> Feather opens with ‘Rhythm Go ‘Way’ (based on ‘’Such Sweet Thunder” from Ellington’s Shakespearean Suite, commissioned in 1956 by Canada’s esteemed Stratford Shakespearean Festival), the steamy tale of a timid suburbanite (‘I’m just a poor helpless hausfrau / Tangled in your snare’) seduced by the Ellington beat. ‘Can I Call You Sugar?’ is taken from Ellington’s ‘Sugar Rum Cherry’ (his sublime twist on ‘The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’). ‘Suburban Beauty’ becomes the swingin’ ‘Backwater Town.’ ‘Rexatious’ is, as ‘Tenacity,’ transformed into something straight out of Gold Diggers of 1933. Ellington and Strayhorn’s “Dancers in Love” is reimagined as “Imaginary Guy,” about a woman and her ideal, if invisible, mate (‘Got a sense of style / Yet he doesn’t preen / Sports a drop-dead smile / Keeps the kitchen clean’). There are others, equally sensational. Throughout, Feather demonstrates a pep and fizz worthy of Annie Ross at the height of her vocalese powers. Genius. Pure genius.
—Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times
What sets Feather apart is the use of her imagination to stimulate your own and to draw you into the heart of an emotion, whether joy or melancholy. In short, it’s like listening to a story on the radio. With a Feather lyric, you don’t just hear, you somehow see! … I just can’t wait till her next release.
—Bill Falconer, Coda
[Her CDs] represent the most imaginative, impeccably composed and sung vocal jazz since the breakout of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in the late 1950s/early 1960s era.
—Phil Elwood, Jazz West
Jazz can be thankful for dreamers–artists such as Lorraine Feather who refuse to allow their artistic visions to be tainted by the demand of commerce. On Monday night at Catalina Bar & Grill, Feather (daughter of the late Times jazz critic Leonard Feather) performed a set of songs that were–in concept, at least–as esoteric as they were entertaining. But just imagine what the reaction might have been if Feather had taken that concept into a pitch meeting at a major record company. ‘What?’ I can hear one of the suits saying, ‘You want to do an album in which you write a bunch of lyrics for Fats Waller instrumentals? You’re kidding, right?’ Feather wasn’t kidding, however, and actually managed to have the songs released in a collection titled New York City Drag on the Rhombus label. The good news is that it’s receiving a surprising amount of airplay (a tribute to public radio); the downside is that it’s not likely to turn up on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. The best part is that Feather did it at all, that she applied her witty way with a lyric to a set of vocalese numbers arching through the stunning complexities of Waller’s piano lines. On her menu: familiar tunes such as ‘Fractious Fingering’ (retitled ‘Jukebox’ in Feather’s version) and ‘Smashing Thirds’ (retitled ‘Cezanne’), as well the less familiar ‘Gladyse” (whimsically retitled ‘Gal on the Side/She’s Gettin’ Some’) and ‘Numb Fumblin’ (retitled ‘In Living Black and White’). Feather not only composed this daunting collection of lyrics, filled with tricky inner rhymes, offbeat stories and sardonic references, she also sang them with astonishing vocal dexterity. Accompanied by pianist Shelly Berg (who bravely and brilliantly managed the Waller-referenced backings and interludes), bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Greg Field, she offered an evening that was as poetic as it was musical … a rare and wonderful example of what can happen when an artist with Feather’s talents decides that a work worth doing is worth doing, regardless of its commercial potential.
Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times [live performance review, Catalina Bar & Grill]
A ravishing parade of metres, neat rhymes and carefully formatted rhythms … rich, manifestly brilliant lyrics … and I do mean brilliant.
—Ken Rattenbury, Crescendo
Multiply 14 a few times, then square it and add any large number, and you’ll have an idea of the creative and performing delights you can find in this album. Maybe squaring is a bad suggestion, because these tracks are anything but. Lorraine and Stephanie are two of my favorite performers. Lorraine has a gift for fitting the most unlikely rag and stride instrumental pieces with fascinating lyrics and then actually singing the occasionally tongue-twisting results, and Stephanie has become one of our most dexterous and accomplished pianists in the genre. Well, go ahead and square it if you can.
— Dick Hyman
At this point in her career, Feather could find a way to spin the phonebook into a collection of engaging and catchy tunes.
She makes unconventional thoughts accessible ... Who knows where Feather will go next? ... Only she knows. But we know that captivating thought, wry poetry and quirky melodies will continue to capture her listeners’ attention about complicated subjects in ways that no one else can.
Lorraine Feather has carved a niche not just for her jazz delivery but for unique and almost Tom Waits-like lyrics to moody and sepia toned songs. She mixes bop with eerie bohemia ... gets you into the corners of life on "In A Hot Minute" and "Some Kind of Einstein." Cerebral swing.
– Jazz Weekly
I think she has marked new boundaries for herself as an artist and created a bigger, more dazzling musical ballpark for jazz and jazz song.
- Janet Coleman, Cat Radio Cafe—WBAI, NY
The recording has a range and depth both lyrically and musically. The set is funny, reflective, romantic and even otherworldly. Feather’s distinctive and clarifying delivery is mesmerizing and compelling to listen to, as the words and notes intertwine.
Math Camp contains the most cleverly composed original songs since, well, Feather's last recording, Flirting with Disaster ... this is perfect music.
Both the music and words of Math Camp flow through one’s mind like a soft, smoke-filled, uneasy series of dreams whose meanings seem perfectly clear when asleep.
– The Art Music Lounge
Her music is erudite, many of her lyrics are clever, even funny, and, judging by the songs on her new album Math Camp, she can write ballads as powerfully as Randy Newman.
Feather’s latest is another wellspring of cleverness that bounces between sweet, sardonic, poignant and mirthful ... think of it as an intellectual jazz lab dedicated to the dissection of the human condition.
Fascinating ... emotionally rich ...Seriously, Math Camp is a delight from start-to-finish and will send ripples through your personal universe for many a day and night.