Street Sounds: Jazz album flutters to life

Beth Arrison: Chasing Butterflies

Edmonton-based singer/songwriter/pianist Beth Arrison’s second album, Chasing Butterflies, lives up to its title: It’s all levity, light and “up.”

Arrison, who’s often compared to Diana Krall, is no stranger to space and abstract phrasing (Under the Moon). This characteristic gives the music on Chasing Butterflies an off-beat jazz-driven quality full of eccentric moments that attract and meander (Jack and Lucy).

Vaudeville themes are checked and explored in songs with open-ended meaning –– Arrison’s direction seems to point to ambiance rather than definite statement.

Arrison’s vocal is alternately wispy and detached on the beatnik tracks and clean and intimate on forceful songs like Stuck in the City, the vibrant opening track, and the expressive ballad Broken Highway.

These songs buck the jazz vibe while using a similar free-form approach. This latter song, as well as Nicholas Green, creates a brief glimpse into Arrison’s dreamy way with the ballad form – a vibe that David Lynch would appreciate.

–– Dean Gordon-Smith is The Morning Star’s music reviewer. His column, Street Sounds, runs every Friday.