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Christina Courtin - Christina Courtin

Christina Courtin

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CHRISTINA Courtin is multi-talented. A recent violin graduate of The Julliard School, she is fiercely ambitious and wasted no time in writing and recording the songs that would make up her debut album.

Indeed, while at school she participated in multi-media pop and jazz shows that her fellow students would put on for their after-hours entertainment. As a result, she put together a band to play around town and to record an independently released disc.

As a violinist, she’s collaborated with several artists including Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble, Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov and soprano Dawn Upshaw, among others.

And she’s also now delivered an eponymous debut album with some co-production from jazz bassist Greg Cohen and her frequent band mate, singer/guitarist Ryan Scott.

It’s an impressive offering. In addition to her vocals, Courtin wrote all the songs and also plays viola and toy piano on Hedonistic Paradise and provides string arrangements on Green Jay, Bundah and Rainy.

She also enlisted the help of Cohen and Scott on bass and guitar, and acclaimed musicians including keyboardist Benmont Tench, drummer Jim Keltner, pedal-steel player Greg Leisz, Punch Brothers violinist Gabe Witcher and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion to help out at various points.

The result is, by turns, enchanting, beguiling, ethereal, simple, beautiful, gutsy, epic, intimate and deeply appealing. Some tracks require repeat listens to really admire… others can easily be compared to other artists in style.

But there’s no denying that Courtin is her own woman and has a distinct style. Hence, while album opener Green Jay displays a kooky kind of charm that provides a genuinely engaging introduction (think Regina Spektor, only less poppy), its successor Bundah is laidback, reflective and sweetly delivered in a style not dissimilar to Norah Jones or Katie Melua.

Foreign Country has a nice jazzy vibe and an easygoing feelgood vibe about it that’s great for lazy, sunny afternoons, Hedonistic Paradise is stripped back and almost a capella, and February a beautiful undertaking that boasts some really nice guitar licks to accompany Courtin’s fragile vocal delivery (think PJ Harvey in ethereal form).

There’s a slightly darker feel surrounding the epic slow-builder Laconia that lulls you into a false sense of security for some time, before really exploding into warped, almost menacing life towards the end. It’s very cinematic in a bizarre Tim Burton kind of way.

Tracks like One Man Down and Rainy, on the other hand, showcase, respectively, Courtin’s lush vocals and her violin skills. Both delight in their own ways.

In short, Courtin is a beautiful new discovery in waiting…

Download picks: Green Jay, Rainy, One Man Down, February, Foreign Country

Track listing:

  1. Green Jay
  2. Bundah
  3. Foreign Country
  4. Hedonistic Paradise
  5. Mulberries
  6. February
  7. Laconia
  8. One Man Down
  9. Rainy
  10. Unzipped