Pauline voice is going to capture you from the first note. Beautiful and powerful, her voice has being compared to Cassandra Wilson, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughn. There is some truth to those comparisons; Pauline takes the best of all those amazing singers, the tone of Cassandra Wilson, the energy of Nina Simone and the feeling of Sarah Vaughn. With all these ingredients she's creating her own style and delivers a wonderful debut album.
But there's a difference in Pauline music; being of Haitian descent, she sings in both English and her parents native tongue, kreyol. Her rendition of the classic "Blue Skies", first part in english and second part in kreyol, is amazingly beautiful. The song starts with a funky bass intro that later change into a more traditional jazzy arrangement.
There's no doubt Pauline and her band can swing, A Musical Offering starts with an excellent, swinging version of "Love must be catching". Corcoran Holt on Bass, Sharp Radway on Piano and Alvin Atkinson on drums are in full swing also on "Exactly like you" and "Forget me". Sharp's arrangements and piano playing are some of the highlights on this album.
If Pauline is good in the swinging tracks, she is even better singing ballads, with lovely and soulful renditions on "I thought about you" and "Little did we know". Something in Pauline phrasing and the arrangements on songs like "Plain Gold Ring" is probably what brings comparisons with Cassandra Wilson.
Pauline is also a good songwriter. Listen to the very nice lyrics and music on her compositions, "Searching" and "Signature". Searching have a nice funky rhythm that at times reminds me of the singer Sade.
"Dey/Rasenbleman" is a chant of hope with lyrics completely in the kreyol language. On this song one can appreciate the range, power and beauty of Pauline voice. "Ayiti Remember" is almost a Jazz version of "Dey/Rasenbleman", same hopeful message but with a jazzier feeling.
On "Beautiful Friendship" the band is back into a swinging mood, this time McClenty Hunter on drums provides the rhythm with yet another swinging bass and piano by Corcoran Holt and Sharp Radway.
Pauline deep and classy delivery on "Tell me more and more and then some", similar of Nina Simone version, proves this lady can sing the blues too. A Musical Offering is a promising debut for this fresh new voice in the Jazz scene.