Sylvia Brooks, Jazz Vocalist
How far can a song take you? What corners of a hot and twisty soul can it invade? And where will it
leave you, when it inevitably does? In approaching her new album, Restless, Sylvia Brooks sought to
answer those questions, and take her listeners on a tour of the hungers that haunt us, the passions
that drive us and the compulsions that send us careening deliciously close to the edge of the abyss.
Initial discussions with arranger and producer Kim Richmond brought forth several ideas. “I wanted
to take a set of songs—this set of songs—and give them more of an urban, street-like feel.”
Recalling an incident several years ago that saw her confined to a hospital bed in New York City, she
speaks of the totality of the experience in musical terms. Of the jangly, dissonant pulse of the city,
the ambulances whizzing by at 3:00am, the clickity-clack of stilettos on the sidewalks below, the
heaving sighs of the concrete canyons as they purge and are purged of their human contents...
"Darlin' I need you, lately I find,
You're out of my heart-and I'm out of my mind..."
And it was from the stirrings of “’Round Midnight,” that the album’s concept began to come
together. “I wanted people to feel the complete surrender to that kind of barren loneliness, to use
instrumentation to bring around that feel of the streets of the City, and bring out the steel of pain
and emptiness built into these songs.” And in exploring the ambiguities and contrasts, the
staggering highs and desolate lows, the fragilities and desperate yearnings, inherent in such songs
as “Last Tango,” “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” and “You’re My Thrill,” she seeks to impart that
tactility to her listeners.
As Richmond began to write, and the two began putting together the instrumentation, one by one,
each of the 11 tracks on Restless came to represent a complete experience, a self-contained
vignette with a richly satisfying emotional core, tales of decadence and decay, seduction and
manipulation, release and ruin and the beautiful victims such devastation leaves in its wake.
"You know how nights like this begin, the kind of knot your heart gets in,
Any way you turn is gonna hurt..."
And through these explorations, the wide range of instruments deployed—violins, harmonica,
accordion, french horns, percussion, guitars and Sylvia’s fascination with the secrets that lie
beneath, the collection began to coalesce into a new and unique mash-up blending art, film and pure
musicianship she calls “Jazz Noir."
So pour yourself into a gimlet state-of-mind, where the brighter the sunshine, the darker the night,
and a raven-haired seductress sinks her hooks in you and the pain is so exquisite, you dare not tear
yourself away. Then see just how far a song can take you...