A Subtle Ode to Joy and Hope

Wednesday's Song

  • Song: "Nile"
  • Artist: Valerie Troutt
  • CD: Various Artists, The ObliqSound Sampler
  • Genre: Jazz

On the transfixing "Nile," Valerie Troutt's voice is a thing of rare beauty — stunning in its deceptive simplicity and expressive without resorting to melismatic melodrama. Troutt approaches her imaginative lyrics with stirring conviction, but she never oversells the song. Fortunately, she doesn't have to, because "Nile" is a ballad blessed with an enchanting melody and arrangement, and brimming with thoughtful, heartfelt optimism.

Valerie Troutt sings with conviction, without resorting to melodrama. Wan Lee

Valerie Troutt sings with conviction, without resorting to melodrama. Wan Lee hide caption

itoggle caption Wan Lee

With lyrics this hopeful and inspiring — "You'll find joy and love will flow like a river/ No man hath tasted what lies in store for you" — "Nile" leans closer to gospel than lovers rock. Still, the song never seems mawkish or contrived.

The lyrical content of "Nile" may be steeped in late-20th-century gospel, but its succinct melody and arrangement suggest '70s R&B. Thanks to drummer Sean Rickman's soft brush work, Gregoire Maret's gorgeous harmonica accompaniment, and Troutt's pliant soprano, "Nile" fits comfortably in the modern jazz canon. On top of that, Federico Gonzalez Peña's keyboard work meshes nicely with an ethereal harmonic bed of bassoon, trombone, trumpet, and flugelhorn, all of which push the song into the realm of soulful electronica.

The more the song's complexities are dissected, the more its ingenuity fascinates, but it's always infectiously joyful.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Web Resources

Purchase Featured Music

The ObliqSound Sampler

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
The ObliqSound Sampler
Artist
various
Released
2005

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.