Perhaps it’s no surprise that jazzy chanteuse Bernadette Seacrest is better known in Europe than in Atlanta, where she currently resides. Along with guitarist and songwriter Charles Williams (Aquarian Rescue Unit, Bonaventure Quartet), whose love and knowledge of Django Reinhardt is respected worldwide, and upright bassist Kris Dale, Seacrest slings out a dark, often ominous folk, jazz, rockabilly, tango and Western swing concoction that seems to originate from some 1950s Rive Gauche beatnik café.
No need to travel to Paris to partake in this group’s sumptuous offerings. Bring your beret, snap your fingers and find yourself transported to a different time and place as you nod along to such walking bass-driven saloon noir tunes as “Who’s Buying?” “G-d’s Been Drinking” and “Pass the Tourniquet.”
Seacrest’s slinky vocals stay very much in the Billie Holiday tradition, but when she shifts into Bob Wills territory on “The Rain Has Stayed Away,” with Dale doing catlike pedal-steel duty, it’s clear that her voice is a malleable instrument comfortable with a variety of related genres. She’s sensually sad on “Empty Streets” and “Cabbagetown Girl”â€”the latter a song Tom Waits might have written in his early days, if he’d been based in Atlanta rather than L.A.
Hints of subtle percussion, organ, accordion, violin and horns add a burnished sheen to this organic brew, creating a stripped-down vibe reminiscent of Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours” album, without detracting from Seacrest’s lush-life vocals and mood-indigo stylings. 3 STARSâ€”Hal Horowitz