There are a number of enigmas in the music world and why this Fondue Set album lay unreleased for so long is one of them. A recent New Zealand Herald article described Caitlin Smith as one of New Zealand’s best known singers and that’s true. Because she is so well respected I can’t help wondering why she’s not profiled more often in the mainstream media. Her voice is simply stunning and the material she choses, her choice of musicians and the way she plays with the lyrics sets her apart.
The Fondue Set have been part of the music scene for more than a decade. Founded by Graeme Webb, the group has gone on to gain a kind of cult status and perhaps that imparts an added cache. There have only been two previous Fondue Set CD’s released and both remain popular. This album was recorded on mini disc in 2004 and it will be a welcome addition to their recorded output.
Caitlin’s voice is a real draw card, but as anyone who has seen her perform will know, her stage presence adds yet another compelling dimension. As this is a live recording much of that magic is communicated. Founding member Graeme Webb is not performing on ‘Down To The Rind’ but the other original member Steve Gerrish is. The new addition is Nigel Gavin who is well known about town for his stellar musicianship and the wonderful sounds he coaxes from his guitars. These musicians work well with Caitlin, providing all the support she could wish for.
The arrangements are by Smith, Garrish and Webb and what fine arrangements they are. Caitlin Smith is known for appropriating songs from other genres and turning them into earthy Jazz vehicles. It’s the fine arrangements that underpin that process. I was particularly drawn to ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ (Trad), ‘Secret Love’ (Pain/Webster) and the red hot treatment of ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ (Mingus). There is also a gorgeous version of ‘Tennessee Waltz’ (Stewart/King). This song is very much in vogue with Jazz-Americana musicians and well it might be. Nigel Gavin works his special brand of magic on Tennessee Waltz and the echoes linger happily in the memory long after the track is finished.
This is available from record stores, iTunes or from http://www.caitlinsmith.com/music
Who: Caitlin Smith (vocals, arrangements), Nigel Gavin (7 string Tui guitar), Steve Gerrish (guitars, arrangements) – Graeme Webb (arrangements)