Sailing to Byzantium
How appropriate that Christine Tobin should follow her exploration of Carole King's classic Tapestry album in 2010 with a masterpiece of her own. Her style, although rooted in jazz, draws on a broad range of influences, and Dublin-born Tobin, a talented composer as well as a glorious interpretative singer with a fabulously alluring voice, has carried off that rare feat of setting poems, in this case those of William Butler Yeats, to music and making the results sound like natural songs with emotional impact, melodic hooks and ecstatic refrains. The opening When You Are Old charms like a magnet, drawing the listener into a sound-world created by voice, piano, guitar, flute, cello and double bass that's by turns yearning, bucolic, elegiac, apocalyptic and deliciously romantic, and draws on the folk and European art song traditions as much as Tobin's jazz background. As an added bonus, her former school teacher, now Hollywood actor, Gabriel Byrne, contributes three beautifully modulated Yeats recitations. However, this is Tobin's triumph, her greatest hour so far and surely her passport to a wider audience.