First a confession; having fallen in love with Di Anne’s music, I’ve since had the privilege, if only by telephone, of chatting with her. I found her a warm, wise, and utterly captivating woman, and count our conversation as one of my fondest memories.
I mention this because that same warmth and wisdom comes through in every note of Di Anne’s music. And I simply can’t imagine any listener failing to fall under her spell.
Di Anne’s spent her entire life in Memphis, a city with music in the very air. She has a double major in Sociology and Music from the University Of Memphis, yet remains one of the city’s best-kept secrets. “To Hell With Love” is her third recording, here reissued (there have been a pair since), all featuring her steady band of Boyfriends (drummer Tom Lonardo, bassist Tim Godwin, and saxophonist Jim Spake).
“To Hell With Love” is a thematic collection of tunes that could well be standards but are, for the most part, just a little more obscure than that. Di Anne’s choice of material is impeccable; taken as a whole, she spins a musical yarn that follows the course of a love affair, from initial infatuation through the ache of loss. But one needn’t follow the narrative thread to appreciate individual tracks; Di Anne has that ability to thoroughly and completely inhabit every song she sings, and each is a treasure taken on its own.
Performances, too, are top notch throughout. Di Anne’s piano work is equally effective whether she’s caressing a ballad with a feather-soft touch or banging out a boogie with furious abandon. Her Boyfriends provide superbly sympathetic accompaniment that borders on the telepathic; Di Anne’s a storyteller at heart, and they seem to follow her instinctively as each tale unfolds, their accents perfectly placed for subtly dramatic effect.
And then there’s Di Anne’s voice. All the cliché’s apply; smoky, honey laced with bourbon, a bit gravelly, warm and intimate. But above all, knowing. Knowing the heartbreak and the joy of which she sings, and taking unabashed delight in sharing them with listeners. When she tackles heartbreak, it’s like a heart-to-heart talk with one’s oldest and dearest friend. And when she swings with sly, sassy exuberance (she loves songs with naughty double-entendres), she’s an utter delight to be with. Her phrasing and dynamics are flawless, her delivery as natural as breathing itself.
Di Anne Price is easily the equal of any who’ve tackled this type of tune, where blues meets jazz, material by and for adults who’ve lived and loved and who’ve won and lost at both. Spend some time with her and just see if your own heart doesn’t feel a little lighter, a little larger . . . yes, she’s that good!
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