Live at the Basement
'Live At The Basement' is Robyne Dunn's fourth album and features Matt McMahon on piano, Steve Hunter on bass, Dave Goodman on drums, Dave Theak on tenor saxophone and Phil Slater on trumpet. It was recorded over three nights in 1999 at Sydney's premier blues and jazz venue. The album showcases Robyne's singing, musical and songwriting talents. Robyne's first three albums, 'Labour Of Liberty', 'Stowaway' and 'Spindrift' established her as a force to be reckoned with among Australian singer songwriters and were justly acclaimed by critics. Her impressive list of achievements includes supporting Billy Joel at the Sydney Entertainment Centre for 6 nights, recording 'Stairway To Heaven' for the notorious Andrew Denton compilation CD and singing soprano on the 'Priscilla Queen Of The Desert ' score. She has worked with the production talents of Iva Davies and Gil Norton (Echo & The Bunnyman, Triffids, Pixies) and has guested on albums by Gondwanaland, Peter Miller and Jodi Phillis. Laughing Outlaw Records is proud to release this fine live album. Why, you may ask, is Laughing Outlaw releasing what might be described as a jazz record? Well our one true test of whether we release an album is whether we dig it, regardless of genre. And good people, believe us when we say we dig this record! REVIEWS 'Dunn's voice floats and shimmers and glows. She writes to her own strengths as a singer: subtlety of expression, beauty of tone and, above all, her ability to build a personal musical world, draw you into it and then keep you spellbound.' - JOHN SHAND, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (OF 'LIVE AT THE BASEMENT') 'Why is Robyne Dunn not a star? ... exceptionally melodic and cleverly constructed songs ... haunting voice ... temptress-bold ... and she presents herself with a soft-focus allure that both sexes seem to find appealing, singing lyrics charged with razor-sharp observations'. - JOHN SHAND, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 'a wonderful singer with startling clarity '. - BERNARD ZUEL, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 'a vision of rare depth and individuality' - MICHAEL DWYER, THE WEST AUSTRALIAN (OF 'SPINDRIFT') 'a voice like a siren... enchanting... alluring... ['Spindrift'] is technically awesome... beautifully reconciles the melancholic with the celebratory... a gallery of discreet, troubled and darkly sensual narratives ... a triumph'. - MATT BUCHANAN, SMH METRO 'a shining talent... capable of making your heart skip a beat' - LYNDEN BARBER, THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN 'a beautiful, confident and assured record... There is real joy and exuberance to be found here... What is immediately impressive is the strength and clarity of her musical outlook.' - JON CASIMIR, SMH PINK GUIDE (OF 'STOWAWAY') 'a genuine prodigy.... perhaps the most extraordinary new talent...['Labour of Liberty'] is a remarkably mature and assured piece of work'. - CLINTON WALKER, NEW WOMAN 'Another Laughing Outlaw signing on their fourth album and another Australian act on the label which is new to my ears... This time I've not researched too much into Dunn's background on purpose. I've listened to this album for a few weeks now and I understand that as it is her first live album (it was recorded in 1999 at the Basement in Sydney over three evenings). Dunn has taken some songs from her previous albums and put them in a new setting. I don't know what the Basement in Sydney is like, never having been there, but these songs, in this interpretation, sound like it is a smoky jazz joint which is probably as far away from the truth as you can get! But there is no denying that these songs are given the jazz treatment. Again not knowing the singer/songwriter's previous work it is impossible to compare these readings with those originals but they certainly work in this context. The 11 songs are all quite long. There is not one under 5 minutes and 3 of them go over 7 minutes. This is good as it gives the songs the chance to develop and make their mark and, as with most of the music in this vein, the melodies are not as instant as the music we hear blaring out of our radios all day long. These songs need time to reveal their beauty but it is time worth giving. This is late night listening with the lights low, or a Sunday morning album. It's not an album to listen to driving along in the car, I've tried it and because it is so quiet, and requires attention it's best listened to in a home setting. It's on the fourth, 'History' where it all started to make sense to me. The often-cited influences of Kate Bush and Tori Amos are to be heard on this track. It has a beautiful melody. Dunn's vocals have an amazing clarity and the piano playing by Matt McMahon is simply breathtaking. From there on the album seems to get better and better. The following track, 'Sleeping Dogs', again displays Dunn's strong vocal prowess and the band including Steve Hunter on bass and Dave Goodman on drums (outstanding throughout the album, but especially so on this track) are excellent. I'm no jazz expert and wouldn't dare to try to offer any technical details about the music on this album, but I do know well played music when I hear it and I hear a lot of it on these tracks. There is a lot of feeling in the playing, so much that if you close your eyes while listening to the album you are taken to the Basement and feel part of the audience. Thanks to Norah Jones a new generation (and some of us older ones who didn't get it the first time around) are discovering the joys of jazz tinged music and while I'd make a guess that Dunn has been playing for a lot longer than Norah Jones maybe the breakthrough Jones has made will pave the way for the likes of Dunn to now reach a wider audience. I always feel that if on hearing an artist's work for the first time you are impressed enough to check out their back catalogue then obviously their music has touched you and made an impression. I have no doubt that very shortly I will be reaching into my pockets to shell out for Dunn's previous three albums. Partly out of curiosity I'd like to hear if these songs work as well in a different setting or to hear if they already had this laid back jazz sound, and partly because Dunn is such an accomplished singer I would simply love to hear more of her work.' - pennyblackmusic.com 'I'm obviously not well up on my Australian female singer-songwriters. Born and raised in Sydney on a diet of Miles Davis and Weather Report before getting in to Costello, Kate Bush and Led Zep, Dunn released her debut EP way back in 1987, since which time she's released three solo albums and played countless concerts. Taped over three nights in 1999, this, her first release in six years is also her first live recording, and, though I'm in no position to know different, apparently puts a spin on her material by setting the songs, drawn from her back catalogue I guess, within a sparse laid back jazz context of piano, bass, drums and sax I don't know what they sound like originally - though reference points have embraced both Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Edie Brickell, Joni and inevitably Bush - but here their torchy, late night smoky sultriness certainly grabs the attention with Dunn sounding like some seducing angel, Jane Siberry with the sensual heat turned up. The performances tends to stick around the same mood, which does tend to mean there's not that much variety of tempo and with songs stretching out from between five to eight minutes you do have to get into the groove to really appreciate the textures. But given the quality of the writing and the playing on things like the biting commentary of History, the forlorn Valley Of Tears which addresses an artist's loss of creativity, the upbeat Be Yours and the moody voyage of discovery and life experience that is Lucky, it's well worth turning down the lights, stretching back and letting her flow through you.' - NetRhythms Website.