Allison Brewster Franzetti artfully straddles a piano melody with elegance and exquisite self-control as we listen in on “Wonderful Tonight,” a cover of the Eric Clapton song of the same name, one of the eighteen different tracks found of Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock. Even before Markoff and Lazzara have begun to entice us closer with their decadent flute play, Franzetti is laying the foundation for a song that gets a second life in this marvelous new collaborative LP, and while any Clapton fan would likely say that nothing could compare to the string-driven original (and be right to some extent), there’s something particularly special about hearing the composition through the lens of these devoted musicians and their approach to the medium.
There’s a lot of content on Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock (often abbreviated as simply Timeless), with pop tunes like “So Far Away,” “Perfect” and The Beatles’ classic “Yesterday” sitting beside “Verdi Cries,” “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Unchained Melody” peacefully, but I think that “Titanium,” “American Girl” and “Hallelujah” felt the most genuine and emotional when compared with their original incarnations. It isn’t easy to tackle any of this material; in reality, these songs have been covered thousands of times by just as many artists, but by sticking with a minimalist format here, Markoff and Lazzara are able to maximize harmonic depth without ever sounding as though they’re using Franzetti’s backdrop as a means of recycling bittersweet pop classics and old world ballads far past their expiration date.
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I absolutely love the chemistry between Steve Markoff, Patricia Lazzara and Allison Brewster Franzetti here, and I hope that Timeless doesn’t mark their last time sharing a studio together. You can tell, especially in songs like “American Girl,” “Wonderful Tonight” and “Your Song,” that their connection is organic, unforced and completely dependent on their shared grasp of the music, which, as sad as it is for me to admit, isn’t something that can be counted on with every independent collaboration coming out of the American underground nowadays. I’d love to hear what they could do together on stage, but for the time being, I’d settle for another set of songs as seductive and consistently engaging as this one is.
You don’t have to be a flute addict to fall in love with what Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock this February, but for those who value a wind-born melody more than most do, this is as smart a listen as you could hope to find right now from any artists, mainstream or otherwise. Timeless doesn’t ask us to revisit the same old song and dance we heard decades ago, but instead provokes new ideas via a curiously different path into the sonic forest that shows us as many unnoticed nuances in a given composition as it reminds us of elements we’d long overlooked. In short, it’s a great disc from top to bottom, and it’s more than worth your time.