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In her albums of sung poetry, Susanne Abbuehl grants words room to move. For her, "setting verse" implies more than the pinning of a poem's cadences to a fixed arrangement. On 'The Gift', as on her earlier recordings 'April' and 'Compass', she insinuates herself inside the texts, explores their inner rhythms and their melodies and meanings, and sets them free to gently float and sway.

The approach is beautifully realised on this third ECM album by the Swiss-Dutch singer, recorded in the South of France in the summer of 2012 with, perhaps, the most responsive band she has yet led. Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode remains a central presence in the line-up but they are joined now by Swiss player Matthieu Michel, a highly intuitive musical partner since 2009, whose flugelhorn is a wonderful second voice here, and Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivouri, whose sensitive playing was previously heard on Tomasz Stanko's 'Dark Eyes' album.

Poetry embraced here includes words by Emily Dickinson, Emily Brontë, Sara Teasdale, Wallace Stevens, and Susanne's own lyrics. Where Compass was an album whose texts spoke of voyages, 'The Gift' is more concerned with the pleasures of the harbour and the homestead, with understanding the richness and fecundity of one's own territory through the changing seasons. Dickinson (1830-1886), Brontë (1818-1848), and Teasdale (1884-1933) were all, by choice, temperament or circumstance, reclusive writers. But fixed location need not temper the flight of the imagination: a landscape or soundscape can be dreamt up... The music, with one exception, is entirely by Abbuehl herself.

Personnel: Susanne Abbuehl (voice), Matthieu Michel (flugelhorn), Wolfert Brederode (piano, Indian harmonium), Olavi Louhivuori (drums, percussion)


  1. Name
  2. The Cloud
  3. This And My Heart
  4. If Bees Are Few
  5. My River Runs To You
  6. Ashore At Least
  7. Forbidden Fruit
  8. By Day, By Night
  9. A Slash Of Blue
  10. Wild Nights
  11. In My Room
  12. Bind Me
  13. Soon (Five Years Ago)
  14. Fall, Leaves, Fall
  15. Sepal
  16. Shadows On Shadows
  17. This And My Heart, var.
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