Ingrid Lucia stylizes something that is already stylized—the trad jazz canary. That has distinguished her from others working the same field, but the level of abstraction she reaches sometimes makes her work slightly remote, like a crystal rose.
On Midnight Rendezvous, she’s more affecting than ever because the material she penned with guitarist John Fohl takes a similar step. The songs come from trad jazz, but they’re not bound by it, and the coupling of them and her voice gives the music a gravity that works in her favor. “Never Let the Party End” opens the album on her turf, but the drums churn relentlessly and Fohl’s guitar skitters like it’s hanging on tightly not to lose control. She conveys the menace, but the hipster in her persona keeps her from being overwhelmed. Similarly, “Watching You” lilts gently and sounds like a song of two hearts united until Lucia sings, “Darling behave” and adds a dark note that leads down a path of anxiety.
The band this time around is stripped down, and it suits the material well, avoiding the bright sounds that add perkiness to almost everything they touch. Lucia similarly mutes the brightness in her voice, and the results make Midnight Rendezvous stand out.