Hope Waits possesses a rare combination of ability, class and grace, qualities that could well make this new artist the modern day equivalent of Billie Holiday. Simple is the operative word throughout Hope Waits, an album that easily rates as one of the best debuts of 2007.
The project was produced by Peter Malick, who adds stellar guitar playing throughout the album. Malick wrote, or co-wrote, four of the album’s original songs (three with Waits), and also assembled the team of all-star musicians that perfectly complement each the album’s 12 tracks, adding just the right touches of musical support, while still allowing Waits’ gorgeous voice to always remain at the forefront.
Waits’ original songs could just as easily have been written in the 1940’s, sounding as if they have already stood the test of time, remaining as fresh and invigorating as ever. Her songs seem deeply personal, allowing Waits to bring a real emotion that is far more impact than most. This is particularly true on “The Ballad of Judith Anne,” a song that finds Waits reminiscing of the day she discovered mementoes from her mother’s secret past, a mother that had been murdered when she was 21 years old.
Waits’ vocal range is exemplary, part Janis Joplin, part Billie Holiday, always generating electricity. In addition to the originals, the singer wraps her sensuous vocals around classics covers to showcase a wide variety of influences, ranging from pop (“Yesterdays” and “Come Rain or Shine”), to soul (a remarkable take on Ray Charles’ “Drown in My Own Tears”), to New Orleans sounds “(“Cigarettes and Coffee”), to R&B (“I’ll Be Satisfied”).
Hope Waits is a remarkable release from a remarkable talent, a debut effort that brings a new beautiful voice to national forefront. If Waits can repeat this effort on future projects, she will make a name as one of the more powerful female voices of her day.
Hope Waits is out now on Radarproof Records.