When an artist’s press release cites influences from the likes of Cassandra Wilson, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt it certainly grabs the attention, which is good, obviously. On the other hand, it does somewhat build up the expectation levels around an album and makes an unsuspecting reviewer approach with caution. ‘Overnight Lows’ is Sunny Ozell’s second album and if she was looking to make an album that showcased her love of the sultry tones of soul, jazz and blues with which these legends made their names then she has succeeded admirably. The album oozes class throughout and, if pressed for a single word to describe the style and feel on offer it would have to be ‘sophisticated’.
What is impressive here is that Ozell has managed, within the confines of what is undoubtedly a soulful and bluesy album, to offer a number of variations on the theme. Take for example ‘In The Sun’, a song so laid back that it has the feel of a long and languid waltz. As a late-night companion piece put that together with ‘Downstream’ with its dreamlike meander, almost Arabic sounding backing vocals, a beautiful cello solo and you have two gorgeous songs that reveal the vocal talents of Ozell at their very best.
If ‘In The Garden’ is similarly paced there is a deeper groove on display here which brings it more into line with much of the rest of the album. Ozell ventures more towards pop influences on both ‘All That I Am’ and ‘Not Afraid’ as that groove is employed to great effect on these more commercial sounding songs. The album closes with ‘Take Me Down’ and, with its brass accompaniment and deep drum groove it is a big, bold jazz infused, noisy way to prove that this lady can ramp it up when she wants to.
‘Overnight Lows’ may have some variations in tone and style but the quality is of a consistent level throughout. The production is high class and Ozell’s vocals are of such a standard that it acts as both a perfect vehicle in which to showcase her talents and with which to pay homage to those legendary influences.