Music Web International (UK)

There are few players as eloquent as Alan Broadbent, whether soloing, or in ensemble or accompanying, and few singers whose voice fuses so perfectly with him as Georgia Mancio. At the same time that their latest disc is released, a book of 33 of their original compositions has been issued. Not only, then, are they are a formidable duo pairing on stage, their sympathetic association has reached a kind of lyric perfection on the page too. It’s appropriate therefore that Mancio’s lyrics are reprinted in the booklet.

The nine tracks share a romantic trajectory, with her textual suggestibility and Broadbent’s acutely perceptive accompaniments bringing a rapt sense of engagement throughout the 40-minute album. Broadbent offers rich lines in I Can See You Passing By whether proffering chordal or more refined, refractory support to Mancio’s melancholic voice, though one happily devoid of all sense of self-pity. The blues-drenched piano opening of When You’re Gone From Me suggests the forthcoming melancholy but both musicians find grace in the third two-line stanza before Broadbent’s deeply reflective soliloquy – and it does sound like a soliloquy rather than a generic ‘solo’. Mancio meanwhile sings within her compass, never forcing her voice, before Broadbent’s forlorn postlude. This is a truly poetic-painterly composition, most beautifully performed by both musicians.

They have the gift of immediately establishing a sense of atmosphere and they manage to vary the songs’ outlines to reflect the emotive states of each of them. In Tell The River, for example, Mancio’s naturalness of expression never hides her involved intensity and when Broadbent makes his summation, his postlude here is both gracious and affirmative and, indeed, brief. Of subtlety there is no shortage; try If I Think Of You where Broadbent’s long, languid legato playing in the centre of the song heightens the directness of the lyrics – never overblown, often rhyming (in this song the individual verses’ rhyme schemes vary). The title track finds Broadbent oscillating in a kind of musical stasis, his rich chording and her reflective simplicity showing an innate awareness of time’s authority and our place in nature.

This is an album of warmth, gentle regret, reflection and quiet hope. The songs are short stories, poetic reflections or meditations on love and on loss. Nothing is up-tempo, there is no hectoring or underlining, no bop anthems, no intrusions into the quietly hypnotic spell that this magnificent album offers.