Anyone with a pair of ears can tell that Sarah Quintana possesses a rare talent. The golden-voiced chanteuse has amassed a formidable following here in her hometown of New Orleans as well as throughout France, where she is a frequent voyager. So it comes with much anticipation that she releases her debut studio album, The World Has Changed, a collection of original material featuring Quintana with an all-star lineup of local musicians. Naturally, with anticipation comes expectation, and on the whole The World Has Changed doesn’t disappoint.
The opening of the album does give some cause for concern. The title track, which starts the record, comes across as inorganic and overly clean. It takes a few songs for the album to shed its veneer of being just another vocal jazz album and for the true beauty of the songs and the talent of the musicians to shine through.
“Blue as a Rainbow” is a real turning point, a haunting and beautiful ballad. From this point onward, the album is pure magic. The musicians seem to let go of preconceived notions of how jazz is made and tap into a deeper musical intuition, letting Quintana’s voice lead the ensemble into rich and unexpected musical terrain. Drummer Simon Lott’s innovative use of bells, pots, pans and coffee cups prove to be a perfect complement to Quintana’s crystalline voice. Likewise, the addition of several guest vocalists, including Leah Song and Chloe Smith of folk duo Rising Appalachia give way to musical moments that prove transcendent, soulful, and just plain fun.
Bass wizard James Singleton also lends his talents to The World Has Changed. His playing is often understated, spreading his wings only occasionally, as on the lilting flight-of-fancy “My Cup.” But for such a venerable musical presence as Singleton to put his stamp on this project speaks volumes about the talent and promise of the group’s young leader.