Nonstandard American Standards

Evergreen Machine (Calibrated Records)
Thulla

By David Lilly

Thulla is an anomalous artist in her homeland of Denmark. With just a couple of exceptions, she wrote the entirety of her first three albums, disregarding the mainstream. Interestingly, of the 11 songs on her latest album, Evergreen Machine, only two are her compositions. The others belong to composers named George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Rudy Vallee and others.

Thulla is exceptionally talented and one smart cookie for using a musical bridge from her last album, Double Up, Please! (which, speaking of old numbers, included Brecht & Weill's "Alabama Song"), to this one, Evergreen Machine, via a reworking of the song, "Scent of Flowers Died Away." The new arrangement is entitled, "What's the Matter with Us, Baby." Paired with the popular and highly regarded Danish singer, Povl Dissing, it is just enough to cause a familiar listener to realize the similarity and recognize the step in a slightly funkier and more electronic direction.

Seconds after "What's the Matter" drifts away, the speakers fill with Thulla's take on the classic, "Summertime," which wears the same bluesy eroticism as The Doors' live takes on it. With "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," she successfully alternates between innocent faithfulness to a father figure and fogging up the windows with steamy seduction.

It seems clear that her own compositions, "Piece of You" and the previously mentioned, "What's the Matter" are on this album because they fit right in, sounding like songs from decades ago. The twist is that it's done with an electronica/techno motif spread throughout like a delicious jam and Thulla's Eartha Kitt-style whispery vocals. This is also a testament to her songwriting capabilities. Listening to other tunes here such as, "Up a Lazy River," "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "The Man I Love," and "The Thrill is Gone," performed with the "classic" aspect intact at the heart of the matter, but with electronic blips and bleeps, some low-key rocking-up and other effective percussive touches, is really a treat.

For all who enjoy a spot of bizarre in their musical tea - if American standards well-done by a Danish singer isn't enough - the opening sounds of "The Thrill is Gone" evoke the dark clinking and clanking percussive sounds in Tom Waits' version (speaking of bizarre) of the Disney classic, "Heigh-Ho." Was Thulla influenced? Well, she is a Waits' fan. Want to hear samples and know more? Save yourself the cost of a plane ticket to Denmark, listen to and learn more about Thulla by clicking over to

www.thulla.net

.