It’s almost exactly four years since their debut album, Songbook, was glowingly received. If this, their second, had turned out to be more of the same, no one would have complained. But one small difference brings a subtle and fascinating change to the music of singer-lyricist Georgia Mancio and pianist-composer Alan Broadbent. Instead of the conventional bass-and-drums accompaniment, there’s just the two of them – voice and piano. Perhaps it’s the intimacy this creates, or the added concentration it calls for, but there’s an intensity to these nine songs beyond what was there before. Maybe even the brevity of each song adds to the effect; only two of them run for more than five minutes.
Mancio’s tales of love, family, loss and hope are deceptively simple on paper but touchingly persuasive when she sings them. There’s no particular rhyme scheme or verse form, but all the songs follow the same pattern in performance, with a piano solo in the middle. Broadbent seems incapable of playing an unmelodic phrase, and these brief solos are all gloriously free and imaginative, while always in keeping with the mood of the piece.