Ann Dyer’s newest release, “When I Close My Eyes,” sets a new standard for intimacy, improvisation and experimentation in vocal jazz. On her previous release, “Revolver: A New Spin,” she sang strikingly original interpretations of the classic Beatles album. Her new release moves toward even greater expressiveness.
The tightly focused format of voice, bass and drums feels like chamber music, yet without the anchoring harmonies of piano or guitar, Dyer’s vocals are free to roam wild. On her new originals, along with tunes from Bjork and Elysian Fields, her voice moves in unexpected, experimental ways. Dyer uses her studies of Hindustani vocal technique to extend the vocal boundaries and stretch words into notes beyond the point of simple meaning. Her method of fusing lyrics with melodies is unlike that of any other singer — delicate, poetic and whisperingly intense. Accented only by bass and percussion, it feels at times as if she is gently blowing in your ear. You lean forward to get more. The result is a beautiful, mesmerizing and disturbingly unconventional recording.
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