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3WA 2018 #2: Caro Emerald – Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor

Kicking back and relaxing isn’t my standard musical mode, admittedly. Kicking back and relaxing to lounge music is particularly not my standard musical mode.

Sometimes I enter a non-standard musical mode.

What is it?

Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor is the 12-tracks-long 2010 debut album…

…well, drat. I’m leading off this year’s project with back-to-back debuts. Debut records with a dozen songs. Awfully sloppy of me, isn’t it? The next one won’t be a debut. I promise.

Anyway. This is the first full album from Caro Emerald, or Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw if you want to get all “Gordon Matthew Sumner” about it. It follows (and includes) the two singles with which she started making a name for herself the previous year.

How does it sound?

Have you ever dreamed a mix like this:

Why this pick?

It’s hard to pin down why this one works so well. Jazzy lounge-act stylings aren’t normally my thing, but these arrangements work. Caro Emerald’s voice is certainly a part of what works, sure. How does it add up to more than the sum of its parts, though?

Maybe some of the answer can be found in the lyrics and overall tone of the record. These aren’t torch songs, not very many of them anyway. They have attitude, verve, and (dare one say it) a lusty approach to the games that men and women get up to on and around the dance floor. These are the songs of a woman who knows what she wants and is only willing to put up with a certain amount of shenanigans in the pursuit thereof. It’s never crass, though, always clever. The entendre are definitely double, if only thinly veiled.

I’m not a words-and-meaning guy when it comes to music. In this case, though? The metaphors here aren’t too complicated and the intent is usually quite clear.

This album skirts the edges of the “electro-swing” scene, weaving some modern technical flourishes into the jazz-based tapestry. The results are toe-tappingly, hip-swayingly fun. What more could you want, really?

Which songs are the highlights?

For all that the album has a very consistent lounge-act feel to it, there are some clear standouts. The already-popular (for good reason) “Back It Up” and “A Night Like This” are included. I seek out “Stuck” and “Just One Dance” from time to time as well.

Which songs don’t work so well?

Only one song really puts me off, and that’s “Dr. Wanna Do.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, it’s just the pieces adding up to less than the sum of their parts more than anything else.

Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?

There’s only one other full album so far, The Shocking Miss Emerald, and while it features one of my favorite songs in the artist’s catalog (“Tangled Up”) I just don’t enjoy it as much overall. Sophomore slump, perhaps. I eagerly await the next album… if it ever arrives. It was due in 2015 but things happen in their own pace, I suppose.

Any final thoughts?

If the album sounds like a selection of pieces from a movie, well, that’s the point of the title. The songs made for this album were specifically crafted to evoke that jazz-lounge air of a particular kind of scene in a particular kind of movie. One can easily imagine this record as the soundtrack to an anthology TV series where each episode takes place in different versions of a smoke-filled bar with the same band on stage. Like Doctor Who but for film noir.

Somebody get on that, would ya?

I suspect that there’ll be a necessary shift in style for Caro Emerald going forward, as the whole “lounge act” shtick is such a niche that I can’t imagine it remaining a viable pigeonhole to live in for very long. The singles released after the 2nd album suggest that my guess is correct.

Which is a weird thing to happen to one of my guesses, but there you have it.

1 Comment

  1. As we discovered, we both came across Caro Emerald at roughly the same time. You by being a music-seeking missile, me via the “Coffeehouse” channel on the Duck U Bookstore’s “Muzak” system.

    “Stuck” is certainly my favorite track on the album, though I don’t think there’s a single song on it that I’m not fond of… even “Dr Wanna Do”, which I agree is the weakest of the batch. (as an aside, the video I linked is the band live at Montreaux. While it doesn’t eclipse the studio version… that’d be really hard to do… make sure you stick around until the 6:30 mark for the most aggressive keyboard solo since Trent Reznor at Woodstock)

    Yeah, this one blindsided me. As you say, it’s not technoswing, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t call it lounge… Is there a Jazzpop? It’s Jazzpop. And really, really good.

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