Lorraine Feather has had a long and varied musical career. Noted for her lyrics, she has written for movies such as The Jungle Book 2, Dinosaurs and All Dogs Go To Heaven, earning seven Emmy nominations in the process. She is also a Grammy-nominated jazz artist, having released 11 solo albums since the late 1990s. It is somewhat surprising then that, up until now, she has never written an album comprised entirely of love songs. Flirting With Disaster aims to rectify that with 11 songs expressing the trials and tribulations of new romance via clever lyrics and expert arrangements.
Flirting With Disaster reunites Feather with her songwriting team of Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets, Shelly Berg, Eddie Arkin and Dave Grusin. Grusin had worked with Feather on her Attachments record where she added lyrics to his song "Memphis Stomp." Here the pair work on the laid back blues of "Big-Time," which features a breathy vocal from Feather against a piano backdrop and "Wait For It," a reworking of Grusin's "Bossa Baroque" with new lyrics from Feather and a new counter melody from Gruisin. The song features a pretty, rolling piano melody and an understated vocal from Feather.
The title track opens with strong, wordless harmonies before moving into its breezy verses that betray its subject matter. Feather is in fine voice, stretching from subtle to strong with ease, enticing the listener in the process. Less successful is "I'd Be Down With That," an upbeat track with a spoken intro over a sophisticated drum pattern from Michael Shapiro. While Feather's vocals are fine and the musicians are too, the song tries to be too clever for its own good lyrically. Still it's a minor misstep on an otherwise strong release.
Along the same lines, but much more rewarding is "Be My Muse," a song that features many musical changes and shows off the staggering range of feather's vocal abilities. The album ends with the poignant ballad, "The Staircase." Feather shows here and elsewhere that she is equally comfortable singing playful, fun up-tempo numbers or more traditional ballads such as this one. The album includes lyrics and a track-by-track commentary from Feather, offering insight into the writing process.
On Flirting With Disaster, her first album of entirely love songs, Feather hits it out of the park. Clever lyrics meet sophisticated arrangements and top-notch musicianship on this fine release.