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Tina Schlieske - The Good Life (Shifting Paradigm Records)

1 March 2024

There is always something far too limiting, and indeed self-limiting, about artists who regard themselves as one thing or another. We hear terms such as “rock guitarist,” “pop singer”, and “dance music producer” all the time. But what if you want to change genres? What if you decide to venture into new areas and new instruments? Why should you stay in your lane? It is surely better to regard yourself as a “musician” or “artist” and leave it at that.

And Tina Schlieske is an excellent example of what I mean. Although well known on the Minneapolis music scene for music that lies in more rock realms and Americana sonic altitudes, The Good Life sees her first foray into jazz. An all-round artist indeed.

So, here we find her taking on eight jazz standards, songs iconic enough that even someone who thinks they know nothing about the genre will probably be familiar with. Built mainly around the delicate piano, deft and sparing drums and spacious bass, with some brass and organ additions from time to time, it is Tina’s voice in the spotlight.

She runs through this selection seductively and subtly with a sound that evokes the subdued light and smokey air of late-night supper clubs and exclusive and hard-to-find basement bars of old.

Kicking off with the slow, slick and sophisticated tones of the title track, she wanders through more upbeat realms with “Witchcraft” and a buoyant, muted trumpet-led take on “My Baby Don’t Care For Me,” and delivers a real winner with the snappy bass and beat driven “Them There Eyes.”

The album rounds off with the iconic “Lilac Wine,” a song recorded by everyone from Eartha Kitt to Nina Simone to Elkie Brooks. (If you only know the song because of Jeff Buckley or, worse, Miley Cyrus, perhaps this album isn’t for you after all.

But for everyone else, jazz devotees and discerning music aficionados in general, this is a worthy addition to your collection. It is an album that will turn even the most ardent non-jazzers onto the genre. Just mark my words.