Lately in my music listening excursions I’ve been deeply exploring the parallels between jazz and country music. I’ve always had my suspicions that the two are close cousins, sharing similar melodies, tempos, and time signatures; the parallels between the Big Band era and the Western Swing stylings of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys; the song catalog of Willie Nelson. Indeed, one could make the argument that at his core Nelson is a jazzbo. Listen to the man play guitar with those flamenco references and the way he sings a step behind the band is jazz in its purest sense.
It doesn’t hurt to have written a classic song like "Crazy", either. I’m sure Tierney Sutton understands this. She covers "Crazy" on her newest album Something Cool. Sutton must be a fan of Nelson and Patsy Cline; she covers both "Crazy" and "Walking After Midnight" on the album, giving it a cool jazz spin. In fact, all of the songs on Something Cool are given subtle twists in their arrangements, as if Sutton and her band are informally playing in someone’s den.
Some of the other highlights on Something Cool are a take on "Ding-Dong! The Wicked Witch Is Dead" with a breakneck swing tempo and impressive scatting by Sutton, a cool lounge take on "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", a sassy cover of "Alone Together" with solo bass accompaniment, and a version of "Comes Love" that conjures up images of rain-slicked streets and ice cold martinis on Broadway, Sutton singing the vocals just a step behind the rhythm, just like Willie. Something Cool is one of the best jazz vocal albums I've listened to this year. And that's an impressive feat considering the number of solid vocal albums released this year.