Review Summary: A very entertaining and adequately humorous blend of retro jazz and pop delivered by a charming, charismatic vocalist. Caro Emerald is one of a kind.
I have always wondered why Sputnik has never really noticed Caro - she used to be quite the big thing in media and has received quite a share of radio and TV exposure. The 32-year-old Dutch lady already has several music videos to her name, quite good ones at that. And now she's released her second album, which I think is a good occasion to review her debut.
"Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor" is a collection of songs kept in the jazzy/swingy aesthetic, with the faster-paced songs borrowing heavily from dixieland, while the slower ones more leaning towards cool jazz and even lounge music. Everything's also flavored with modern electro-pop instrumentation and even some effects such as scratches here and there.
The lyrical themes of this album usually match the musical, and this is even further reflected in the music videos. Everything is supposed to remind you of the first half of the 1900s: Caro's "gangster's girlfriend" image, her lyrics about casinos, falling in love with total assholes and making a prima donna #1 lady out of herself. I know this probably sounded a bit pejorative, but it does have its uncanny charm - and combined with the timeless character of many of her lyrics, creates an experience one (especially a golddi... uhhh I mean self-respecting woman) could easily relate to. As the album title suggests, the album is also pretty uh.. "cinematic". Yeah, it makes you think of all those old crime stories. And most of the songs -almost- wouldn't feel out of place in a Tarantino movie if Caro took herself a bit more seriously and wasn't so humorously corny.
Your typical jazz connoisseur is probably too elite to appreciate this stuff, as it has been quite noticeably "tainted" by radio-friendliness-enhancing gimmicks, such as often simple, looped, sampled drums, usage of filters and effects and the aforementioned scratches and vocal sampling. However, the upside is that to my knowledge at least, no one has attempted to create something like this before. And relatively simple as it is, it could potentially incline some people to take a shot at true jazz. Not to mention that the album is just pretty darn fun to listen to in its own right.
The rating would have been higher, but Caro Emerald unfortunately isn't entirely her own artist - all her material is written by some Dutch composers. She does deserve her credit for the delivery and stylisation, though. I don't think many other singers would be able to breathe so much life into these compositions. She also feels genuine, and definitely in her element, so she probably had those composers write the stuff for her just because she felt unable to do it herself. She possesses a warm, well-controlled voice which never outstays its welcome and never sounds too harsh, ear-piercing or abrasive. Even the highs have a particular quality to them that only enhances the "neo-retro" (isn't that an oxymoron?) aesthetic.
I won't be recommending any tracks, since the album is pretty consistent throughout with a wealth of styles and registers. You can visit Youtube and look her up, enough videos will pop up for you to form a more or less reliable opinion. If you are looking for something new and fresh, I greatly encourage you do to it.