For jazz fans from swing to sultry, Angie Wells delivers a sixteen song set of originals and classics on her sophmore release “Truth Be Told,” On this album the magic of her harmonious blend of soulful melodies and heartfelt narratives go on to resonate as a poignant reflection on life's most profound aspects. Wells, a musical luminary nurtured in the vibrant tapestry of Philadelphia, draws inspiration from her rich upbringing, entwining her narrative with jazz's expressive language to craft an album that speaks to the depths of the human experience.
The album commences with an entrancing prologue, detailing Wells' genesis of her vocal beauty, a fateful encounter with Count Basie in her tender kindergarten years. From that seminal moment, a deep-seated connection with music was birthed, laying the groundwork for an exceptional journey that would flourish decades later.
Wells' odyssey, traversing her early days as a spirited church choir songstress to her transformative rendezvous at a Parisian supper club, culminates in a masterful opus produced by the illustrious bassist John Clayton. Anchored by Wells' velvety vocals, "Truth Be Told" emanates an ensemble of virtuoso musicians, including luminaries Josh Nelson on piano, Clayton Cameron striking the drums, Trevor Ware digging deep on bass, Larry Koonse on guitar, Jacob Scesney soaring on tenor sax, Ivan Malesspin on trombone, Kye Palmer playing trumpet and flugelhorn, Katisse Buckingham on flute, and Carey Frank playing the Hammond B3. Vocalists Lynne Fiddmont and Valerie Geason provide background vocals on two tracks and vocalist Zion G duets with Wells on one track.
The album unfurls with profound gravitas, echoing the tumultuous societal upheavals that ignited its spark. The track "Truth Be Told" strikes a fervent chord, imbued with a pulsating gospel fervor. Addressing the painful subject of racial injustice and police brutality, Wells' impassioned delivery is magnified by a resonant backdrop of fingers rhythmically snapping, underscoring her call to action.
Wells weaves tales of love, joy, and introspection throughout the album's journey. Original compositions like "There's Always Time for Lovin'" caress the heart with their tender sincerity, while "Talkin' All Under My Clothes" dances playfully with the language of flirtation, evoking a lighthearted charm.
In a striking juxtaposition, she delves into the somber depths of societal critique with "Where the Livin' Is Good." A satirical gaze upon the incongruity of opulent affluence and abject homelessness, the track reverberates with irony, compelling listeners to ponder the complex imbalances of society.
The album blooms further with reimagined classics, as Wells lends her enchanting timbre to reinterpretations that bridge eras. Her bluesy rendition of "Do I Move You" invokes sultry intrigue, resonating with Larry Koonse's evocative guitar work. "Accentuate the Positive" experiences a contemporary rebirth, infusing R&B flavors into a timeless composition.
Wells' rendition of "Nick of Time" carries a soulful essence, adorned with Koonse's laid-back guitar solo and Josh Nelson's fluid piano accompaniment. The album takes a nuanced turn with the mesmerizing fusion of "Moanin'/Work Song," where Wells' bluesy delivery intertwines with Carey Frank's Hammond B3 and Katisse Buckingham's enchanting flute.
"I've Got a Feeling" finds its place as an ever-present motif, woven artfully throughout the album. Different incarnations, from instrumental interpretations to Wells' soulful hums, craft a tapestry of emotions that thread seamlessly, offering moments of introspection and communion.
As the journey draws to a poignant close, Wells delivers a soul-stirring rendition of "Here's to Life," accompanied by an intimate guitar and piano arrangement that amplifies the raw emotion of the track. "They Can't Take That Away from Me" serves as a heartwarming a cappella duet, sealing the album with an ethereal embrace.
Listeners will find all sides of Wells’ multi-dimensional artistry throughout “Truth Be Told” as she transcends genres with complete ease, encapsulating the essence of life's complexities through a medley of emotions and sounds. Through its soul-baring narratives and masterful musicality, the album eminates Wells’ indomitable spirit and her unequivocal talent in crafting an aural journey that resonates deeply with the soul.
Released February 24, 2023.
CD and Digital Download, Also available on Streamings Services.