Toronto-based pop and jazz vocalist Lori Cullen has a beautiful, pristine voice that recalls the likes of Joni Mitchell and Jane Siberry. Lori has been acclaimed by jazz great Kurt Elling as one of his favourite new singers. It’s her singing that always draws attention, and partly for the things that it doesn’t have. No vibrato, no trendy affectations, no unnecessary melodic ornamentation.
Fittingly, Lori’s latest album, titled “Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs” (2016, True North), is a collaboration with Ron Sexsmith, who penned the lyrics, and Lori’s husband, singer-songwriter Kurt Swinghammer, who wrote the music and handled the arrangements. “To have two of my favourite people who also happen to be two of my favourite songwriters write an album of material for ME to sing is beyond exciting,” beamed Cullen.
The 12-song recording has been described as a “fresh expression of jazz-infused chamber-pop,” though it draws inspiration from Burt Bacharach, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. The critics have been unanimous in their praise, California’s Rawcus Magazine calling it “an audiophile’s dream” and one of the best albums of 2017, and The WholeNote (Toronto) singling it out as “a stunning example of creative, musical symbiosis”.
Lori achieved lasting artistic identity with her 2006 disc, “Calling for Rain”: a hybrid of carefully curated jazz and pop covers, which was nominated for a Best Vocal Jazz JUNO. Lori’s six-album discography also includes 2011’s “That Certain Chartreuse,” which presented an eclectic selection of covers by artists as diverse as Gordon Lightfoot and King Crimson, all creatively arranged by herself and a band of stellar Toronto musicians.
Lori Cullen made her TD Sunfest debut just last season (as the opening act for Ron Sexsmith), and she is not to be missed as she returns to London – this time as the headliner – with her “sensual, swinging and sashaying songs” (Uncut Magazine, UK).