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  • Jonathan Widran

NANCY ERICKSON LAMONT, Through the Passages

Though she’s been one of Seattle’s most prominent jazz singers for over three decades, Nancy Erickson Lamont’s greatest successes as a performer and recording artist began in 2012, when she returned from a self-imposed break to raise her family to win the Seattle Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Competition. Since winning the contest – which included a chance to perform at Asahi Hall in Kobe, Japan – she’s been a regular at all the Seattle jazz hotspots.


The first thing longtime fans may notice about the cover of her warm, beautifully romantic, exquisitely performed and arranged fourth album Through the Passages is her name change from “Nancy Erickson” (under which she recorded the first three) to “Nancy Erickson Lamont” to reflect her getting married in the span since her 2018 popular live album Here & Now.


The second unique aspect of the 12-track collection is the fact that for the first time, the singer shares a set of all original material. Combine these two elements, and we get to the emotional core of the album deep in the tracking with the blissful, reflective tunes inspired by her husband Dan – the poetic, gently graceful “Haiku New Love” (based on poems she asked him to write for her, adapted to deconstructed Haiku form) and a  charming, intimate sonic valentine (mostly a duet with pianist Josh Nelson) where she declares when she’s with him, it feels like “Home.”


Yet Lamont, always a seductive interpreter and now revealing herself as a grand and clever storyteller, expresses other kinds of love here too. There’s the sweet, quirky ballad “Leo,” with lyrics by her friend Darin Clendenin about a beloved golden retriever. Driven by quick, percussive a capella, then vocal-piano phrasing, “G ‘n’ K” chronicles the exciting initial love connection between her daughter Kayla and son-in-law Greg, who used to play in her band. The singer is also a great fiction writer, infusing thoughtfulness and wisdom into the old school hipster energy for an infectious Seattle based tale of a “Rainy Season Love Affair.”


Beyond the songs about love in bloom, Lamont shows the suppleness of her voice and the extent of her wide vocal range on “Miles In Between,” whose lyrics capture the scenic beauty of the region rolling quickly past. Curiously, and in a fresh burst of creative confidence, she chooses to launch the album with the offbeat, wildly anxious romp “Tick Tock,” whose snappy initial drama and later soulful reflections are centered on the world seeming to come apart via divisions sparked during the Covid era. If you’re with Lamont after that powerful burst of  expression, you’ll be hooked for the whole set.  

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