Cry Me a River: The Songs of Julie London at The Jazz Bar is one show that I keep returning to year after year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A few reasons for this – I have been a fan of Julie London for a long time, I have a long time liking for the songs and writers from this period, and lastly, but as important as any of the other two, I like the vocals of singer Kerry Jo Hodgkin in this show.
Julie London and her music are difficult choices for any singer to attempt for many reasons – some songs, including the now iconic “Cry Me A River” were written specifically for Julie London’s vocal range and that natural vocal range of Julie London’s is a lot lower than many female singers can comfortably get down to. Fortunately, Kerry Jo Hodgkin has a voice that can naturally deal with this lower vocal register range (and a lot well above it for other musical projects).
Julie London and her music are, however, a product of their time, and a few of these songs have lyrics that sometimes do not fit comfortably with modern politically correct viewpoints. They are, however, reflections of their times, and should reflect that rather than altering them for modern thoughts on some areas of life.
Contemporary, or period viewpoints aside, these songs are so often self contained masterpieces of story telling and musical arrangements with one important factor that never changes bringing them to life – the power of a good vocalist who knows not only how to tell the story behind these songs, but also how to use the human voice to best emotional or musical effect. Kerry Jo Hodgkin is a singer who understands all of these elements and has a voice that you just need to do nothing more to enjoy than just sit back, relax and let its vocal power wrap itself around you.
Julie London herself often favoured a very simple music arrangement of guitar and acoustic bass to complement her vocals, so this show sticks to that very simple formula with leading Scottish jazz musicians, Malcolm MacFarlane (guitar) and Kenny Ellis (double bass). Sometimes simple works best of all.
Kerry also has another show at this year’s Fringe (also at The Jazz Bar) – Jazz At The Movies, so another chance to hear Kerry singing different songs and vocal styles.
Review by Tom King
Cry Me a River: The Songs of Julie London
The Jazz Bar - Partially Seated
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Hodgkin and MacFarlane