Lockdown album review: Cyrille Aimée – Move On: A Sondheim Adventure

One of the best Sondheim albums you could ever hope for, and not a sniff of musical theatre about it. Cyrille Aimée’s Move On: A Sondheim Adventure a work of musical genius.

“Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new”

I first came across the voice of Cyrille Aimée when reviewing the Encores cast recording for The New Yorkers, her rendition of Cole Porter’s ‘Love For Sale’ making hit the repeat button again and again, such is its gorgeous effortless musicality. So I quickly bookmarked her on Spotfy, knowing that when I had the chance, I would give her 2019 album Move On: A Sondheim Adventure a spin.

Along with co-arranger Assaf Gleizner, Aimée brings a wide range of musical influences to bear here, lifting Sondheim right out of the musical theatre and slap bang into the middle of somewhere exciting fresh and new. The piano trio of ‘Loving You’ brings a delicious, deceptive lightness to this tale of obsessive love, the gentle guitar thrumming through the string-laden ‘Marry Me A Little’ mirrors something of the uncertainty at the heart of the song, real instrumental drama explodes out of ‘Not While I’m Around’.

The highlight for me comes with a sensational rendition of Company’s ‘Being Alive’. Elegant strings guide you through a tenderly respectful opening sectiion but then percussion kicks in and we go somewhere else entirely, brief instrumental solos elevate the fascinating Afro-Cuban rhythms and then just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the final minute is full of the kind of superlative scat-singing that just makes you want to stand up and applaud, and listen to it all over again.

That said, the bluesy slowness of ‘No One Is Alone’ more magical than any cow white as milk, ‘Un Baiser d’Adieu’ (a translated ‘One More Kiss’) has a real grace to it that wisely sidesteps any comparison to the exquisite Dame Josephine Barstow, horns pop up marvellously in ‘Move On’, Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo displays incredible intimacy on ‘With So Little To Be Sure Of’, there’s just so much consistently intriguing and incredible inventiveness on display here, it’s a work of musical genius.

Photography: Noé Cugny

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