Standard Deviation

Jordana Talsky's debut album, Standard Deviation, marks the arrival of a serious young talent in Canadian jazz. The vocalist/songwriter has been turning heads (and ears) on the Toronto scene for the last three years, and her musical career now takes a giant leap forward with this superb solo record.

Standard Deviation features a seamless mix of pop and jazz material. Jordana succinctly describes the style of the record as "jazzy takes on pop songs and poppier takes on jazz songs. I am always attracted to new combinations, rather than strictly sticking to a genre."

As the album title suggests, this is not just another conventional album of Great American Songbook standards. She does breathe vibrant new life into a few such classics, giving a bossa twist to "Old Devil Moon" and a breezy feel to "Devil May Care," while these tunes nestle snugly alongside fresh reinterpretations of pop-rock hits by Alannah Myles (her signature tune "Black Velvet"), The Police (a sly take on "Murder By Numbers") and The Cardigans' "Love Me (Lovefool)." The funky and infectiously upbeat "Panta Niwas" is, she explains, "based on some of my experiences in Nepal, when I lived there in my year between undergraduate and law school studies." The other original, "Whogonnahold," is a more introspective and philosophical look at life, but one delivered with delightful exuberance.

No matter the repertoire, Talsky consistently displays an eloquent and fluent voice. Her phrasing is impeccable, and she never succumbs to the temptation of trying to impress with the technical ability she clearly possesses. The accompaniment of her ace band is always empathetic.

- Kerry Doole