Shana Tucker Brings Her Eclectic Cello Soul Sound to Brooklyn

by delarue

Shana Tucker covers the much of the same ground from behind the cello that Esperanza Spalding does from behind the bass. Tucker distinguishes herself with calmly resolute, eclectic vocals and similarly eclectic songwriting that span the worlds of jazz, soul music and pensively lyrical chamber pop. She brings to mind the similarly diverse, tuneful vocal stylings of fellow cellist Marika Hughes with her group Bottom Heavy. Tucker and her band make a stop in Brooklyn on Jan 19 at 8:30 PM at Shapeshifter Lab in Gowanus; cover is $15.

Her latest album Shine is streaming all the way through at her site. Songs about “saving the children” are usually horrible – even Gil Scott-Heron couldn’t come up with a decent one. But Tucker’s Precious Ones does double duty as a parable for both the environment and the younger generation, with brooding sostenuto cello and tersely resonant piano over a brushed shuffle beat. The next track on the album, Fast Lane, is an acoustic guitar song, the verse reaching toward country, the chorus shifting abruptly toward soul music, Tucker’s voice shifting nimbly between each idiom. Bow Out Gracefully sways along with flamenco tinges, while the sardonically moody, bluesy waltz Repeat Again is bitingly funny. “Surprise surprise surprise, it’s not the ‘new yes,’ it really means no,” Tucker explains exasperatedly.

No Get-Back blends cello chords, echoey Rhodes piano and wah funk guitar into a similarly biting, insistent soul tune, while Simplicity sets gospel-tinged piano over a matter-of-fact, trip-hop tinged groove. Look Me in the Eye has a waltzing pulse and a wry Star Trek reference; the album winds up with the title track, a lushly attractive chamber pop ballad. The other tracks include November, which builds from a suspensefully jazzy intro into brisk Anita Baker-esque jazz-pop, and Just Go, mixing jazz sophistication, gritty oldschool soul and 90s-style trip-hop.