An excellent singer who swings and is at her best when interpreting superior lyrics (she does not improvise much), Eden Atwood's recording debut is quite impressive. Featured in a variety of settings ranging from duets with pianist Laurence Hobgood and Eldee Young to a nonet arranged by Jim Martin, Atwood excels on each of the 11 songs. Highpoints include "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby," "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" and her own "Nothing's Changed."
All Music Guide
Eden Atwood, the Memphis-born and Montana-raised daughter of the late composer and arranger Hubbard Atwood, is a throwback to an era when lyrics were something to be savored and caressed. Hence, she has a soft spot for the torch song and the big ballad. Fortunately, she also has the requisite vocal equipment to deliver them.
The first thing you notice about Atwood is her youth and cheeky self-confidence. Yet she is trapped in a time warp of sorts. Although clearly, in both attitude and mannerisms, a woman of the '90s - and a child of the rock generation - her musical instincts and reference points belong to another era. She has said that she is "incredibly happy" listening to the music of the big bands. "Then the minute I walk outside, it's 1992!" Atwood has managed to evoke the music of that earlier period while developing within the jazz genre her own distinctive style.
At the age of 22, Eden has produced a record that celebrates beginnings. This is only fitting since she, too, is at the cusp of what one expects will be a full and satisfying career. "No One Ever Tells You" is a work of hope and optimism but also one of exquisite pain that, under its sunny veneer, masks a surprisingly melancholy heart. Listen to the plaintive vocals of "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" and try not to be impressed by the artist's sensitive delivery.
One could go on: the effortless scat singing in "Old Devil Moon"; the playful sense of humor in "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby". Atwood is at her brassy and confident best in "Cow Cow Boogie" while her mood turns pensive and somber in "Too Late Now". In a breathtakingly beautiful rendition of her father's "I Was the Last One to Know" she assumes the persona of a singer who has seen too much and hurt too much yet is not quite ready to give up. Finally, in "Nothing's Changed," which she wrote, Atwood appears to have inherited her father's talent for craftsmanship. It's a fine song - touching, melodic and lyrically sophisticated.
"No One Ever Tells You" proves Eden Atwood is an exciting new presence on the jazz scene. Chicagoans already know that.
Now the world will too!
The Chicago Tribune Arts and Entertainment
(c) 1993 Concord Jazz, Inc.