The Jazz Rag (UK)

This is the long-anticipated follow-up to Songbook, the lauded 2017 release by this transatlantic duo, also on Roomspin. As before, Mancio is both lyricist and vocal performer, while the US-based Broadbent partners her brilliantly as pianist and co-composer, this time minus the support of bass and drums, doubtless due to the exigencies of lockdown, this seamless juxtaposition masking their enforced separation. So, no prospective touring or live opportunities beckoning, unlike their earlier association.

Mancio calls these latest pieces ‘beautiful, meaningful songs’ and she’s right, but it’s the shared understanding between the two artists that makes these performances so rewarding. If Mancio’s vocal sound is essentially pure, unhistrionic, sometimes pristine, often yearning, it’s the rich variety of the highly-experienced Broadbent’s keyboard commentaries and compositional shapes that also impresses.

There are moments on When You’re Gone From Me, an evocation of loss, that are simply lovely, Broadbent’s keyboard touch and mastery of harmonic variation quite magical.

All My Life is similarly lyrical, Mancio again in command as Broadbent helps to shape and direct the outcome. Each song merits attention, invariably thoughtful, often poignant, certainly elegiac. The effect is both intimate yet irresistible, Mancio’s lyrics telling their own tales as Broadbent edits and varies their rhythmic geometry.

Mancio rightly commends Andy Cleyndert’s production. Interestingly, the duo have now published a book of their songs, with lyrics and lead sheets, mustering 33 in all. For now, this exquisite yet potent series of reflections on the human condition is too good to miss.