Listening to Joanna Pascale sing is like getting a big hug. Her voice is warm, wise and easy to love. The Philly native has put out fine solo albums previously, but nothing like Wildflower, a deeply felt record that freely mixes pop tunes, blues, and outlier standards.
Running through the set list, her influences are quick to spot—from J. J. Johnson (“Lament”) to Ray Charles (“Drown In My Own Tears”) and Shirley Horn. In fact, her band’s tight, delicious groove on the shimmering opener, “Forget me,” sets a seductive mood and you can imagine Pascale cozying up to the mic, confident as all get out. She spins the lyric with Horn-like shading and a swinging tempo that makes you want to dance. It’s the start to a great listening experience produced by pianist and longtime Pascale friend, Orrin Evans.
From the making of the album Wildflower:
Certainly, with any vocal recording the heavy lifting is in pairing the right tunes with a great interpreter, and Pascale’s choices effectively do that by hitting emotional touchstones on every track. The core trio is Evans, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Obed Calvaire, but the singer imports ace guest talent like Christian McBride and Cyrus Chestnut, who shake up a saucy “Do It Again.” Later, the extraordinary harmonica player Gregoire Maret is featured on a delightful “Overjoyed.”
Pascale’s singing is the stuff of dreams, whether on the achingly beautiful “I Wanna Be Loved” or the reliably uplifting “I’ll Remember You,” where she shines with halogen brightness.
This article is from the May 2015 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More information.