MOLLY JOHNSON: If You Know Love (Label: Anthem, Universal)

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  • MOLLY JOHNSON: If You Know Love (Label: Anthem, Universal)

This Canadian chanteuse was something of a precociously talented child prodigy, performing in professional stage productions as a youngster and then fronting her own disco covers band, Chocolate Affair, as a teenager. Come the 1980s, Johnson was performing with the rock bands Alta Moda and the Infidels though with success proving elusive, she turned her attention to jazz. Judging from the smoky, finely-nuanced sonorities of Johnson’s voice on this follow up her to her much-lauded one-off Blue Note offering, 2003’s ‘Another Day,’ the Toronto-born singer has found her musical vocation. That’s not to say, though, that she’s abandoned pop and rock altogether, as the catchy ‘Rain’ and ‘Sunday’ illustrate, the latter evincing a lovely summer ambience. But jazz is Johnson’s true metier, as evidenced by the delicious title track, a succulent slice of retro-jazz that will inevitably draw comparisons with Madeleine Peyroux. There are tasty covers, too, of the jazz standards ‘Let’s Do It,’ and ‘But Not For Me,’ while ‘Avignon Blues’ is an after-hours number that invokes the spirit of blues singers like Bessie Smith. The album’s eclectic nature is underlined by ‘Let’s Waste Some Time,’ a gorgeous Brazilian bossa nova groove, and the funk-tinged original, ‘Sticks and Stones.’ Likely to get airtime on the influential Michael Parkinson radio show, Molly Johnson looks set to finally break into the big time.
(CW) 4/5