The Grammy-winning singer tells us he’s starting a musical conversation about facing fears
Grammy-winning US singer Kurt Elling has unveiled details of his forthcoming album ‘The Questions’. He says the new LP is his “musical response to this moment in history and the widespread anxiety of our times”. Working with his good friend the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, he says it’s a musical conversation, with a message of courage and hope – a facing of fears.
Elling notes, “I began experimenting with ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ in November of 2016, just after the U.S. election. Today I wonder what I can possibly say that’s relevant now.” He adds, “Branford brought in ‘Washing of the Water’ and ‘Lonely Town.’ I was doing some Sinatra shows during his 100th birthday year, and I love his rendition of ‘I Have Dreamed.’ Guitarist John McLean came up with the gorgeous arrangement, and Branford has his big solo moment there. I like to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am who can fill in the blanks. John also arranged ‘Skylark.’ ‘The Enchantress’ began as a song called ‘The Lonely Swan,’” he recalls, “but what brought the new title to mind was a poem by Wallace Stevens (‘The Idea of Order at Key West’) that I draw on. It’s dedicated to Branford’s mother, who died last year and to my aging mother. The lyric becomes clear once you have that in mind.”
He’s chosen a range of songs including those of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, some classic jazz, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook, plus two originals. This is Elling’s second recording for OKeh Records, seeing its full release on the 23 March. The tracklist is below...
1. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (feat. Branford Marsalis & Jeff "Tain" Watts)
2. A Happy Thought (feat. Stu Mindeman)
3. American Tune
4. Washing of the Water
5. A Secret in Three Views (feat. John McLean & Stu Mindeman)
6. Lonely Town (feat. Joey Calderazzo & Marquis Hill)
7. Endless Lawns (feat. Marquis Hill)
8. I Have Dreamed (feat. Branford Marsalis)
9. The Enchantress (feat. Joey Calderazzo)
10. Skylark (feat. Stu Mindeman)