The power of music to speak and inspire loudly across generations never fails to amaze. How is it that songs penned decades ago, in and around another era of American social turmoil, can so perfectly capture our nation’s present, troubled and tension filled zeitgeist of political, cultural and racial tensions? On her thoughtful, deeply heartfelt, truly genre-transcendent masterwork Tell Me The Truth, veteran vocal interpreter Roseanna Vitro makes it feel effortless, like everything she had ever done with that powerfully emotive voice was meant for and culminates in this moment.
Vitro’s extensive catalog is chock full of tribute albums re-imagining the works of everyone from Clare Fischer to Bill Evans and Randy Newman. On Tell Me The Truth, she has something more expansive – and much more personal – in mind. It marks a return to her deepest roots in Southern Gospel music – which, with the help of a sizzling, swinging six piece ensemble called The Southern Roots Band, extends out to include blues, jazz, R&B and country. The eleven song set rolls with a blend of intimate and dynamics-rich interpretations of classics (and a few delightful to dust off obscurities) by Boz Scaggs, John Fogerty, Allen Toussaint, Mose Allison, Patsy Cline, Billie Holliday and The Everly Brothers. The latter’s “When Will I Be Loved” is known to a later generation from Linda Ronstadt’s classic version, but Vitro, as with everything else, uses it to reflect her deepest questions and truths.
Midway through the boisterous title track, it will hit the listener that lyrics penned by the legendary Jon Hendricks fit our crazy, bizzaro world moment of “alternative facts” perfectly. And Vitro’s lovely traditional version of the hymn “I’ll Fly Away” will probably make everyone wish they could. Tell Me The Truth is a truly timeless work and one of the best jazz recordings I have been graced with this year.
Here is the new video for "Tell Me The Truth":