Holly Cole - Train Song (Tom Waits)
From the album "Temptation" (1995)
Label: Blue Note Records
Holly Cole's website.
Holly Cole (b. 1963) is a jazz singer with a versatile repertoire. Throughout her career, she has performed songs from many musical styles, but her most well-known work is in jazz. In 1986, Cole founded a trio with bassist David Piltch and pianist Aaron Davis. With this trio, she recorded a number of records, of which "Temptation" is the most well-known. Lately, she has recorded with larger groups. All songs on the album are composed by Tom Waits. As such, it can be considered a tribute album.
Train Song is a peculiar recording. Basically, only Cole and double bass provide melody and accompaniment. Percussion then mimics the train; a steam engine, a railroad crossing, the sound of steel wheels on the train tracks, wheels screeching when braking, all effectively suggested with minimal means.
Put into words, this sounds almost inadequate, yet as recorded, it sounds wonderfully complete and doesn't require enhancement. The bass sounds strong and deep, continuously pushing the rhythm and helped by the shakers in the percussion. Well-balanced, they make up a strong audio image.
The reverb and ambiance on this recording are also very well-balanced. Cole's voice is nicely embedded in the mix, providing and getting support from the double bass at the same time. Her expression is very clear and all the nuances she puts into her performance are clearly audible.