By Julia Prigmore (@JuliaPrigmore)
New Yorker Sunny Ozell shines the light on some hidden treasures in her debut album ‘Take It With Me’, adding her own jazz-infused touch to a handful of carefully selected tracks from a bygone era. Originally from Nevada, Ozell’s musical interests started at four when she took up the violin, beginning classical vocal training at the tender age of ten. With over a decade of experience performing live in the Big Apple, Take it With Me is her first recorded triumph.
Take It With Me opens with a cover of Leon Russell’s ‘Manhattan Island Serenade’, Ozell replacing the Southern country twang of the original with her soulful western vocals. The effect is uplifting, feeling more melodic than the eerie 1972 version. Next up is a lesser known cut from a fellow New Yorker – singer-songwriter Julian Velard’s ‘Family Tree’. Sunny’s flawless vocal performance enchants.
The unmistakable slow chugging beat of Pops Staples’ ‘Move Along Train’, drenched in blues and accompanied with gospel backing singers, allows Ozell to make her mark on the classic. Despite being the youngest member of her band, guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan has contributed two songs to the album, both with varying feels; ‘Git Gone’ with its upbeat rockabilly tone, and the visceral lyrics of the graceful ‘Number One’. Sandwiched between these freshly harvested gems lies T-Bone Burnett/Roy Orbison’s ‘Kill Zone’. Originally intended as a Roy Orbison single, set for release just weeks before his death, Sunny gives the beautifully composed track the limelight that it deserves.
Howard Jones’ ‘No One Is To Blame’ drips with jazz and is heavy with brass, again showcasing Ozell’s versatile vocal range. All that is left is the title track to close out the album. Worlds away from the deep gravelly vocals of Tom Waits’ ‘Take It With Me’, Sunny’s cover is moving and insightful, a poignant end to her audial journey through the colourful history of blues and jazz.