Socialist Worker

Hey Eugene! - an optimistic album that mixes its musical ingredients

Issue No. 2049

Cover of Hey Eugene!

Cover of Hey Eugene!

Imagine music that falls somewhere between French cabaret, classical symphony, Latin jazz and pop – and throw in a few touches of Japanese film noir, big band anthems and romantic melodrama.

This just about a close as you can get to describing Hey Eugene!, Pink Martini's new album. Like their previous work, the songs on Hey Eugene! are overwhelmingly optimistic and unashamedly happy, exuding confidence, humour and pure musical joy.

Pink Martini love experimenting and playing around with different forms and musical genres. The album is in turns uplifting, funny, playful and intimate.

It features tracks in a variety of language, and includes their first song in Arabic – 'Bukra Wba'do' (Tomorrow And The Day After), a lively lyrical track which somehow manages to cram in echoes of Bollywood, cabaret and Spaghetti Western soundtracks.

The title track 'Hey Eugene!' is written by the band's lead vocalist China Forbes. It's a wry and funny account of a drunken encounter at a party, and is the most unashamedly poppy tune on the album.

Pink Martini call themselves a 'little orchestra', but there's nothing little about their sound. They get a bit bigger still on Hey Eugene! by adding a gospel choir on their cover of Carmen Miranda's 1930s song 'Tempo Perdido' and a marching band for the somewhat crazy 'Dosvedanya Mio Bombino'.

The album ends with a fantastic laidback version of the 1920s musical number 'Tea For Two'. It's a lovely rolling duet featuring jazz legend Jimmy Scott – reputedly Billie Holiday's favourite singer – alongside China Forbes.

Pink Martini's artistic director Thomas Lauderdale says they aim to create an 'urban musical travelogue'. This album certainly makes you want to sit back, sip a drink and enjoy the ride.

Hey Eugene! Pink Martini
Wrasse Records
CD released 14 May

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Tue 1 May 2007, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2049
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