Lizabett Russo Trio

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

Four stars

LIZABETT Russo arrived at the Traverse straight off a flight from Canada, so if she was chattering uncontrollably between songs that might have been down to tiredness. What’s not out of control is the Romanian singer-songwriter’s music.

There’s a child-like quality to Russo’s voice, which adds to the general charm of her performance, but the youthful vulnerability in her tone is buoyed by a knowing certainty of pitch as she takes melodies off on unpredictable adventures. Were it not for her lyrics, which can use repetition for effect as would an instrumentalist, her voice could be a clarinet or soprano saxophone, reaching for the upper register with one phrase and swooping down to something altogether more guttural with the next.

Her sibilants also have an age to them, like a vintage blues or jazz singer’s, which along with her wordless scatting, as on Perspective with its flamenco-like feel, and her very able use of a foot switch to create a multi-layered choir effect confirm an artist who knows what she is about.

Accompanying herself with simple acoustic guitar playing, she works very naturally with cellist Pete Harvey and drummer-percussionist-trombonist Tim Lane, neither of whom plays a note or a beat out of place. The addition of Graeme Stephen on guitar for two songs in the second set gave the music more weight and momentum without taking away from its essential spectral atmosphere as Stephen fitted into Russo’s creations with all the sensitivity and awareness that he brings to his own compositions. With a voice and guitar rendition of Skye Boat Song Russo signed off, showing an interpretative talent as singular as her original artistry.