Recent Press


Still more great reviews coming in for PELT
HIFI News & Reviews Magazine’s ‘Album Choice’ for February 2017


RTE TV & Radio  PELT review January 11 2017

THE HERALD Scotland    PELT review

CHRISTINE Tobin relocated to NYC shortly after recording this latest album so we’ve still to hear what effect her new surroundings will have on the Dubliner’s music. Chances are she’ll always sound like herself anyway, as these settings of poems and lyrics by Paul Muldoon use a wide variety of arrangements and give hints of influences from the Beatles to John Martyn and Tom Waits, yet could only be Tobin’s creations. She has long had a way of appropriating other people’s words and giving them her unique storytelling spin with a voice that can be dreamy, mischievous, sultry and forthright.

To that talent she’s added composing and arranging gifts that have taken her far beyond any perceived confines of the jazz singer’s milieu, although jazz-friendly ears will enjoy the occasional piano, flute and guitar solos here. Opening track Zoological Positivism Blues inhabits a junkyard groove. Promises, Promises is a complete contrast with its exquisite strings but all of Pelt combines to make an assured, wonderfully imaginative work.
Rob Adams


T H E   O B S E R V E R

PELT – precise evocations of Paul Muldoon poems****

Christine Tobin has an affinity with poets. The New York-based Irish singer and composer has previously cut inspired albums of Leonard Cohen covers (A Thousand Kisses Deep and WB Yeats poems (Sailing to Byzantium) . Here she brings her rich voice and idiosyncratic arrangements to the work of the poet Paul Muldoon. The moods and styles are varied. Zoological Positivism Blues and Longbones hit wonky, Waitsian grooves animated by the guitar squalls of Phil Robson, Promises Promises is languid and plaintive, and Horses sparse and dreamy. Tobin’s vocals, veering from acrobatic to sultry, are tailored perfectly for the material, her evocations of time and place precise. Classy and lovely.


PELT – powerful collaboration with poet Paul Muldoon ****

The Pulitzer-winning poet Paul Muldoon is fascinated by the links between poetry and song, and here he accepts an invitation from his jazz-singing, poetry-loving Irish compatriot Christine Tobin to explore those connections, in a mix of existing work and specially written lyrics. As on Tobin’s WB Yeats tribute, Sailing to Byzantium, there’s a patience and clarity to her handling of fine poetry, but there’s a tough, bluesy assertiveness to this album too. Zoological Positivism Blues is a clanking rocker, underpinned by a pizzicato-strings hook and slashed through by Phil Robson’s wailing guitar, and Tobin sounds almost as scornfully sardonic as 60s Dylan on the Randolph Hearst-themed San Simeon. But the most spacious episodes bring the best out of the players and the words, as Gareth Lockrane’s flute winds through the breakup song After Me, and Liam Noble’s piano shadows the slow-moving title track (“Now rain rattled / the roof of my car / like holy water / on a coffin lid”) as Tobin shifts from sonorous resignation to an upwardly swerving wonderment. Muldoon and Tobin make a powerful team.


PELT – sprawling and enthralling ****

Cormac Larkin

Singer and composer Christine Tobin hooked up with Belfast poet Paul Muldoon at the Kilkenny Arts Festival a few years ago, and that one-off collaboration has grown into this sprawling, enthralling song cycle of mock epic proportions. Pelt strikes that most elusive of balances between familiarity and strangeness, by turns recalling Tom Waits, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, without being beholden to any particular genre or influence.The Dublin-born, New York-resident singer has set Muldoon’s wittily nuanced words (and some lyrics written specifically for the project) to music that veers from grungy, post-industrial grooves to wispy romanticism to abstracted contemporary classical, all played with punkish attitude by an excellent ensemble that includes guitarist Phil Robson, pianist Liam Noble and flautist Gareth Lockrane.

IRISH TIMES 4 star **** review Dec 1 2016



 Jazzwise album of the year list……..


Jazzwise Magazine three page feature

BBC Music Magazine 5 star review ***** PELT

The Herald Scotland *****

Review: Music Monday 2nd June 2014

Christine Tobin at the Tolbooth, Stirling by Keith Bruce

IN AN era of rather too many female vocalists claiming to be jazz singers when they lack the most basic improvising skills, Christine Tobin is the genuine article, and her mastery of the lost art of scat singing, tastefully deployed throughout a set drawn mostly from her recent album of Leonard Cohen songs, A Thousand Kisses Deep, proves the point beyond argument.

She is the lead instrument in a trio with guitarist Phil Robson and the double bass of Dave Whitford, in which all take eloquent solos.

Probably to her financial disadvantage, but all the more convincing in practice, Tobin is the least showbizzy of performers. So the Cohen songs cover the gamut of his career rather than the better-known earlier ones, and every number comes with information about its source album, the date of its first release and sometimes the singer’s relationship with it.

These arrangements – some, like set-closer Suzanne, quite radical – are a labour of love, and it shows in the performances. Eighties classic Everybody Knows comes with a swinging guitar solo from Robson, while Whitford excels on Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye and an improvised intro to Tower Of Song, all three revealed as just as eligible for inclusion in the jazz standard repertoire as the two from that book, You Go To My Head and Cry Me A River, that Tobin performs amid the veteran Canadian’s songs.

To prove that it is a trick these musicians can apply to other songwriters, the opener and the encore came from Joni Mitchell, because she was Cohen’s one-time lover, and Carole King, because Tapestry is another of the riches in Tobin’s jazz life.

(click on review to enlarge)


Brilliant CD review from Peter Bacon
(click on page below to enlarge)

Christine Tobin – A Thousand Kisses Deep « thejazzbreakfast-page-002

BBC Music Magazine April 2014 (5 star review) *****
‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’

Jazz and poetry have often had strong links and vocalist Christine Tobin has struck gold with this album that focuses on the works of Canadian poet and folk hero Leonard Cohen. Tobin’s last disc set the work of WB Yeats, a poet who was also a key influence on Cohen. And for her latest, she tackles tunes from across Cohen’s long career (he is 80 this year), including his famous ‘Suzanne’ . She uses he own distinctive jazz style, unlocking the subtleties of Cohen’s incisive observations and moods. This works well for those who are both familiar, or less so, with his output. Whether it’s the gentle accordion of Huw Warren, the resonant bass of Dave Whitford, or the one-track addition of pianist Gwilym Simcock, the band enables Tobin to re-define Cohen’s tunes with a razor-sharp clarity. Like the best poetry, this album leaves a long lasting impression. Neil McKim

RECORDING     *****
BBC Music Direct  £18.99

(click on pic to enlarge)

Irish times

A beautiful piece by Peter Bacon about our Derby date at Breadshall……

Fab 4**** review in the Guardian by John Fordham

Top review on All About Jazz by Bruce Lindsay

Great Jazzwise review of our CD launch gig at Ronnie Scotts by Nick Halsted

Christine was featured on Robert Elm’s Show BBC (Radio) London 94.9 today, 19th March.
2 tracks from her new ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ (Trail Belle) were broadcast,
including a live in the studio performance of ‘Tower of Song’
with Phil Robson guitar & Dave Whitford double bass
Thanks to Jazz FM for making ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ their ‘Album of the Week’ March 3rd!!

4****review of CD in Independent

4 **** review of new CD ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’
in The Observer by Neil Spencer Sunday March 9

Great review of  ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ on Marlbank


The Guardian, 7 January 2014 review by John Fordham
Live 4**** review 606 Club, Chelsea, London

Tobin combined compelling interpretations of Leonard Cohen with
improv adventures and a moving rendition of WB Yeats

Christine Tobin, the mellow-toned and poetic singer/songwriter, has often showcased one facet of her work at a time – as befits a prolific and independent creator of new projects. For her performance at the 606 Club in Chelsea, however, Tobin took a beguiling tour around some of her favourite musical haunts – Leonard Cohen songs and quietly probing originals of related persuasions, Broadway standards, WB Yeats poems, improv – with her regular band and some additional kindred spirits including pianist Liam Noble and cellist Kate Shortt. Tobin was in a relaxed mood, casually balancing improv adventures against deep, purring expositions of memorable themes and haunting lyrics, and the musicians supported her with unobtrusive inventiveness and the warmth old friendships kindle. Her slow-burn delivery and subtlety at low registers makes her a compelling Leonard Cohen interpreter (her forthcoming album, A Thousand Kisses Deep, is a homage), and the opening Famous Blue Raincoat drifted over a dark landscape established by Phil Robson’s lustrous guitar chords, percussionist Adriano Adewale’s graceful brushwork and Dave Whitford’s attentive bass. Dance Me to the End of Love was spun over a rising guitar-and-bass hook and taken far from its roots by Tobin’s unhurried wordless improvising as well as a solo of startling twists from Robson.

Noble joined for a jubilantly swinging account of You Go to My Head (with Tobin’s variations recalling the audacity of the late, great jazz diva Betty Carter and Noble in urgent post-bop mode). In the singer’s own Brandy and Scars, her atmospheric lyrics were given a hypnotically distracted delivery to a blazing double-time guitar break and a closing Tobin quote from Eleanor Rigby. Shortt deepened the band’s already rich sonorities on Yeats’s The Wild Swans at Coole, from Tobin’s Yeats-devoted Sailing to Byzantium album. A choppy, bluesy groover closed a set that confirmed how far this gifted, imaginative and honest artist has come in a career she has successfully steered by her own star.

Great live review of Christine’s gig at 2013 London Jazz Festival


Review: Christine Tobin at the Purcell Room (LJF) 19 November. Review by Chris Parker)

Although many singer-songwriters have good reason to be apprehensive about contemporary reinterpretations of their work, Leonard Cohen, whose songs formed the entire set (barring the encore) of Christine Tobin’s South Bank EFG LJF performance, is famously accommodating in this regard, even enshrining his willingness to ‘hand on his torch’ to Jennifer Warnes by contributing a drawing of a hand holding one (captioned ‘Jenny Sings Lenny’) to the American singer’s 1987 hit album Famous Blue Raincoat. Her Cohen-covers album, indeed, arguably helped him relaunch his career by injecting a touch of tasteful FM-radio-friendly rock into his songs; Tobin’s treatments come at the songs from a different, more jazz-inflected angle, but like Warnes’s reworkings, they are simultaneously provocative and illuminating.

Sensitively framed by accordion (played by one of her earliest collaborators, Huw Warren), acoustic bass (Dave Whitford), electric guitar (Phil Robson) and percussion (Adriano Adewale), Tobin began with the aforementioned ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, a song dealing with a somewhat complicated love triangle, usually infused with the deep melancholy that results from the careful suppression of pain, but in this livelier version replacing mournful languorous acceptance with an almost defiant emotional bravery. Cohen being the subtle, deeply sensitive poet he is, his songs are peculiarly susceptible to such thoughtful treatments, and so even relatively straightforward arrangements of songs such as ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’, ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ and – the celebrated template for Cohen’s ‘mature acceptance of inevitable emotional change’ songs – ‘Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye’ cast their sentiments in fresh light, Tobin’s searingly affecting vocals emphasising their every slightest nuance.

Cohen, in addition to being one of the most intrepid living reporters from love’s front lines, is also a keen, pithily sardonic but humanely sensitive observer of the contemporary scene, both musical and political, and so Tobin’s suitably robust visits to ‘The Tower of Song’, ‘Everybody Knows’ and ‘The Story of Isaac’, the last an appropriately sourly reharmonised cry for a reflective pause from knee-jerk militarism, skilfully fleshed out her portrait of the great Canadian, so that by the time the set’s final song, Cohen’s first utterance on record, ‘Susanne’, came round, Tobin could be forgiven for (surprisingly) pepping it up in affectionately celebratory manner and giving her excellent, hair-trigger sensitive band a showcase for their considerable musicianship.

Arguably the highlight of the set, mind you, was one of Cohen’s less celebrated songs performed solely with Warren’s piano: ‘Anthem’ is perhaps unduly neglected because it jostles with a series of more immediately striking songs (‘The Future’, ‘Closing Time’ etc.) in its original setting, but in Tobin’s beautifully burnished treatment it positively glowed.

The spring 2014 release of A Thousand Kisses Deep, Tobin’s forthcoming album of all this Cohen material, is, on the evidence of this wholly absorbing, often downright ravishing concert, something to be keenly anticipated.

Great live review of Christine’s gig in Abergavenny.

One of the dates on their National Rural Touring Forum/Jazz Services tour.

Christine Tobin wins Herald Angel Award at Edinburgh Fringe 2013 for
A Thousand Kisses Deep concert of Leonard Cohen songs

Christine Tobin shortlisted for two
Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2013

Christine nominated for Musician of the Year
& Sailing to Byzantium nominated for Album of the Year
full shortlist at link below winners to be announced May 8 at Awards ceremony

Winner of a 2012 British Composer Award

Great end of Year 2012 CD reviews for Sailing To Byzantium

Sailing To Byzantium named CD of the Year by The Arts Desk –
read the 5***** star review by Peter Quinn at link below

Sailing To Byzantium placed at No 7 in
The Jazz Breakfast’s Favourite 50 Albums of 2012

Full Reviews of CD Sailing To Byzantium

September issue 2012 4 stars * * * *
review by Chris Ingham

Sailing To Byzantium – Christine Tobin
Sumptuous settings of W.B. Yeats by a singular Irish singer-songwriter.

Though a favourite of the jazz cognoscenti for her pure, soulful vocalizing, her intrepid musicality and her top-flight, jazz-oriented bandmates, Christine Tobin really transcends glib genre-fication. Her expressive range acknowledges finely acquired folk, jazz and 20th-century classical influences, which already sets her apart. And everything is shot through with an unmistakable refinement, free-spirited earthiness and giddy romanticism, this singer-songwriter is in a field of one. Interrupting a seven-album run of original work last year with Tapestry Unravelled, her affectionate, salty examination of Carole King’s 1970’s classic, Tobin here puts the poetry of Yeats into a series of bewitching, elliptical but richly melodic settings. Gabriel Byrne cameos while guitarist Phil Robson, pianist Liam Noble, flautist Gareth Lockrane, cellist Kate Shortt and bassist Dave Whitford provide a sensitive, responsive soundworld. Beautiful, unusual and another triumph for Tobin.

BBC Music Magazine            Aug issue 2012
5 stars: performance *****  recording *****

There are several interesting things to be noted from this recording. Jazz and poetry have a traditional affinity: both are volatile, evolutionary and multifaceted and both are always open to reinventon. And these 12 settings of some of the best-loved poems by the Irish Symbolist William Butler Yeats – such as “The Wild Swans at Coole” and the title track “Sailing To Byzantium” – constitute a delightful piece of work.

Tobin who has set the works of other notable poets in the past, turned her attention to WB Yeats after being asked to perform by the National Library of Ireland, which in turn inspired this project. Her voice, robust and subtle by turns but characterful throughout, is of course to the fore, but it’s her empathetic arrangements, crafted around each text with the skill of a watchmaker, which make this sonically impeccable disc unique. Do buy this, but also watch out for live dates. Roger Thomas

Herald Scotland  Sunday Herald

 SUNDAY 22 JULY 2012 review Rob Adams

Christine Tobin: Sailing to Byzantium  (Trail Belle)

How appropriate that Christine Tobin should follow her exploration of Carole King’s classic Tapestry album in 2010 with a masterpiece of her own. Her style, although rooted in jazz, draws on a broad range of influences, and Dublin-born Tobin, a talented composer as well as a glorious interpretative singer with a fabulously alluring voice, has carried off that rare feat of setting poems, in this case those of William Butler Yeats, to music and making the results sound like natural songs with emotional impact, melodic hooks and ecstatic refrains. The opening When You Are Old charms like a magnet, drawing the listener into a sound-world created by voice, piano, guitar, flute, cello and double bass that’s by turns yearning, bucolic, elegiac, apocalyptic and deliciously romantic, and draws on the folk and European art song traditions as much as Tobin’s jazz background. As an added bonus, her former school teacher, now Hollywood actor, Gabriel Byrne, contributes three beautifully modulated Yeats recitations. However, this is Tobin’s triumph, her greatest hour so far and surely her passport to a wider audience.

Arts and Entertainment
Rob Adams

JAZZWISE issue 165 July review by Peter Quinn

Christine Tobin
Sailing to Byzantium
Trail Belle Records **** Recommended

In this beautiful collection of songs based on the poetry of WB Yeats, vocalist Christine Tobin has created an unqualified masterpiece. Setting poems from across the entire spectrum of Yeats’ oeuvre, Tobin perfectly gauges the emotional and spiritual resonances of the texts, aided by performances of incredible subtlety and understatement. The singer nails her beguilingly pure tone and melodic fecundity to the mast from the get-go in the autumnal opener “When You Are Old”. In the music’s simplicity and emotional directness – songs such as “What Then?” , “The Wild Swans at Coole” and “Sailing To Byzantium” channel a folk-like potency and restraint – you might be able to detect residual traces of her previous release, Tapestry Unravelled. Special guest Gabriel Byrne, Tobin’s former school teacher in Dublin, recites “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (adroitly accompanied by the singer on piano). “The Pity of Love” and “The White Birds”, and if his presence on the album helps to attract the attention of a wider audience then so much the better. Creating a sound-world all of its own, the seductive spell of Sailing To Byzantium is immediate, its depth of feeling limitless. Discs of this stature are not common – this is recommended unreservedly.

All About Jazz  Sailing To Byzantium review
By  BRUCE LINDSAY  June 18, 2012

On Sailing To Byzantium singer/songwriter Christine Tobin adds music to the poems of Ireland’s much-loved William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). Get this wrong, and an entire nation might well demand answers: get it right and a richly imaginative and beautiful recording is promised. Tobin gets it right.

Tobin’s love of Yeats goes back to her teens in Dublin, when her first boyfriend would read her two of the poems: the beautiful “When You Are Old” and the mysterious “The Song Of Wandering Aengus.” Sailing To Byzantium originated in Tobin’s 2010 performance of Yeats’ poems, given at the invitation of the National Library Of Ireland. Her emotional connection to Yeats’ words comes across in every line—in a career of superb vocal performances, this may well be Tobin’s best yet.

Tobin is both a masterful songwriter and a skilful interpreter of other writers’ work; her 2010 album with pianist Liam Noble, Tapestry Unravelled (Trail Belle), superbly reworks Carole King’s iconic recording. Noble is also a central presence on Sailing To Byzantium, driving the pace of “The Song Of Wandering Aengus,” emphasizing the fearful mystery of “The Second Coming.” His rhythm playing, in partnership with bassist Dave Whitford, provides a strong foundation from which their fellow players take a variety of fascinating paths.

Each musician seems to intuitively understand Tobin’s musical ideas. Kate Shortt‘s cello adds pathos to “When You Are Old” and heightens the sense of regret in “The Wild Swans At Coole.” Phil Robson‘s playing is graceful and fluid, his solo on “The Fisherman” matching Tobin’s voice in its beauty. On “Byzantium” the pair combines on a lovely tune reminiscent of Robert Kirby’s arrangements for Nick Drake.

Gabriel Byrne, now better known as the star of Hollywood movies such as The Usual Suspects (1995), was Tobin’s teacher at school in Dublin. Byrne accepted Tobin’s invitation to read three poems and brings his own gravitas to the proceedings. Tobin gives him space, keeping instrumentation to a minimum. Byrne reads the moving “The Pity Of Love” unaccompanied; on “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree,” a poem that longs for the peace of a “bee-loud glade,” he’s joined by Tobin’s lyrical but sparse piano; for “The White Birds” Gareth Lockrane joins him in a flute and voice duet.

Much of the success of this album is down to the way in which Tobin’s music serves Yeats’ words. The poems are always the primary focus, inspiring the music and the performances. Tobin gets the combination just right, giving emphasis to Yeats’ imagery and emotions, highlighting the subtler nuances, and opening the poems up to offer a new experience. She does this so successfully, that it’s possible to forgive anyone who asks how Yeats has managed to write such beautiful lyrics to Tobin’s tunes. There’s a timeless quality to the music and words on Sailing To Byzantium: a record that goes, as “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree” puts it, to “the deep heart’s core.

The Guardian: Sailing To Byzantium **** 4 stars
John Fordham 28 June 2012

Irish singer-songwriter Christine Tobin dropped a persuasive hint that Sailing to Byzantium might be her best album yet when she debuted some of this WB Yeats-devoted material on the London Jazz Festival last November. Not only did her ethereal sound and patient unfolding of melody impart original illumination to classics like When You Are Old, The Wild Swans at Coole and The Second Coming, but Phil Robson’s guitar accompaniment, and a broad palette of imaginative arrangements featuring cellist Kate Shortt brought a succession of  quiet surprises. The studio version adds more, however – not least the soberly mellifluous tones of star Irish actor Gabriel Byrne (a former schoolteacher of Tobin’s) on three readings, and a significant role for the brilliant jazz flautist Gareth Lockrane. Tobin glides delicately through a rich tapestry woven by Robson, Shortt and Liam Noble’s piano on The Wild Swans at Coole, The Second Coming finds her leaping dramatically beyond her regular range amid free-jazz forays, her centre-stage recital of the title track (‘that is no country for old men’) is subtly nuanced and rich-toned, and Long Legged Fly displays her strengths at the opposite end of her range. It’s a labour of love, in the best senses.

R2 Rock ‘n’ Reel : Sailing To Byzantium * * * *
(4 stars) by Trevor Hodgett  July/Aug 2012

Even today some jazz singers don’t stray beyond the confines of the admittedly vas and wonderful Great American Songbook, but Christine Tobin is made of more adventurous stuff. In 2010 she intriguingly released Tapestry Unravelled, a track by track interpretation of Carole King’s Tapestry, and now, on her current album she interprets a range of poems by W.B. Yeats. Yeats’s poems, some of the most profound of the 20th century, are complex, ambiguous and multi-layered but Tobin surefootedly negotiates their challenges and her interpretations are sensitive, thoughtful and utterly persuasive.

Set to her striking, ingeniously apposite melodies and arrangements are the nightmarish apocalyptic “The Second Coming”,
“The Wild Swans at Coole” – a melancholy reflection on the pain of memory, the mystical “The Song of Wandering Aengus”,
the poignant “When You Are Old” and others.

Tobin’s musicians – pianist Liam Noble, guitarist Phil Robson, flautist Gareth Lockrane, cellist Kate Shortt and double bassist Dave Whitford- masterfully complement her rich, dark vocals. Three of the poems, including “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, rather than being performed by Tobin, are read by actor Gabriel Byrne, who does so captivatingly.  Trevor Hodgett

LondonJazz  review by Chris Parker
Sailing to Byzantium Christine Tobin 

This album of song settings of W. B. Yeats’s poetry is the result of a commission (the National Library of Ireland asked Christine Tobin to give a performance -– of four songs – as part of their Yeats ‘Summer’s Wreath’ celebrations in 2010), but such is the haunting beauty of the whole that it clearly fast became a labour of love.

Tobin herself recalls the effect ‘When You are Old’ had on her when, as a teenager, her first boyfriend read it to her – ‘the power and beauty of the words became infused with the passion of our own romance’ – and this intensely personal emotion infuses the whole project.

With her affectingly languorous, pure-toned voice and crystal-clear diction, Tobin might have been specially created to sing Yeats lines such as ‘But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you’, or ‘Two girls in silk kimonos, both/ Beautiful, one a gazelle’, and with her regular band (pianist Liam Noble, cellist Kate Shortt, guitarist Phil Robson and bassist Dave Whitford) augmented by flautist Gareth Lockrane and actor Gabriel Byrne, who reads three poems impeccably, she has produced an utterly convincing work of art, imbued with taste, refinement and grace, but also -– where required – considerable power.

Musical settings of pre-existing poems frequently sound somewhat contrived; Tobin’s great achievement is to make hers sound so natural and apt that one quickly forgets that the words and melodies were written separately, so absorbing are the resultant songs.


by Bruce Lindsay

Christine Tobin

Tobin, originally from Dublin but now resident in England, has a deserved reputation for her vocal talents and her ability as a songwriter. This concert was devoted to her latest project, in which Tobin pays tribute to the great Irish poet W B Yeats. Apart from the opening song, a traditional tune which Tobin sang in Irish and English, the set consisted of 10 songs from Sailing To Byzantium (Traile Belle, 2012), a set which combines Yeats’ poetry and Tobin’s music with great success.

Tobin (pictured right) performed with a quartet of exceptional musicians, all long-term collaborators and all of whom also played on the album—only flautist Gareth Lockrane was absent from the lineup. Tobin was in superb voice, her clear tone and precise diction ensured that every word could be heard. Her total engagement with Yeats’ work readily transmitted itself from the stage, especially on the more romantic poems such as “When You Are Old” and “The Wild Swans At Coole.”

Each band member made distinctive individual contributions. Pianist Liam Noble and bassist Dave Whitford took control of the rhythms of each song with confidence. Whitford’s arco playing was especially effective, while Noble constructed his solos with imagination, occasionally reaching into the body of the piano to add brief pizzicato flourishes. Cellist Kate Shortt contributed flowing melodic lines and quick staccato phrases, her rich melancholy playing on “In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz” beautifully capturing Yeats’ longing for the memory of past times, and her repeated three-note phrase on “The Fisherman” proving to be simple but effective punctuation. Guitarist Phil Robson underpinned many of these tunes with his mellow, beautifully judged chordal washes. His introduction to “The Wild Swans At Coole” and his fluid melodic single note solo on “The Fisherman” were beautifully empathetic.

Yeats’ poems are often complex, both structurally and textually: not always easy to understand at first hearing. So it was particularly pleasing, as well as a credit to Tobin, that the near sell-out crowd was attentive to the last note even during the uncharacteristically apocalyptic instrumental break on “The Second Coming”—a surprising contrast to the gently reflective mood of most of the set that caught more than one audience member unawares.

The Sunday Times CULTURE mag. 1st July 2012

Lovers of Yeats’s poetry will probably be divided over this one. The Irish-born Tobin is one of our most adventurous jazz singers – her recent reworking of Carole King’s landmark Tapestry album was a bold leap across boundaries – but the intricacies of the verse sometimes threaten to swamp the song form. The undulating arrangements are classy nevertheless. Liam Noble’s piano lapping against Phil Robson’s guitars, Gareth Lockrane’s flute, Kate Shortt’s cello and Dave Whitford’s double bass. The Second Coming is suitably terse and anguished. The actor Gabriel Byrne adds guest readings, too. Persevere.

IRISH TIMES 19/12/10


Dublin-born, British-based Christine Tobin is one of the best singer-songwriters on the world jazz scene. She is acclaimed abroad but still relatively unknown here. Her concert at the National Library last summer and Tapestry Unravelled, her remake of Carole King’s 1972 Grammy-winning album, could change that. RC


Reviews of Christine’s gig at the Berlin Jazz Festival on Nov 7 2010

“Christlne Tobin should be considered the best female singer of the festival with her infallible sense for timing, intonation and the integration of her voice with the other instruments in the band. Her encore ‘Embraceable you’ could serve as a model for the kind of music that we would have liked to have seen more of at the festival.” Franziska Buhre, Berlin. Nov 12, 2010“Glücklich durfte man auch seln, dass endlich mal wieder jemand an Christine Tobin gedacht hat. Die in England lebende Irin ist mit ihrer abgründigen Stimme und den phliosophischen Texten immer noch eine überragende Erscheinung im Uberfluss des weiblichen Jazzgesangs.” Ulrich Olshausen, Frankfurter AllgemeineSee  English translation below…………………………….“One also could be counted lucky that somebody had thought of Christine Tobin again. With her unfathomable voice and philosophical lyrics the Irish-born singer who now lives in England is still an outstanding phenomenon among the plethora of female jazz vocalists.” Ulrich Olshausen Frankfurter Allgemeine

GUARDIAN live review by John L Walters 22 Sept 2010
606 Club, London  4****
Christine Tobin has proved herself as a jazz musician,
a songwriter and as a Leonard Cohen interpreter of
distinction. She is also a generous collaborator, lending
her warm vocals to projects as different as Don Paterson’s
Lammas, Harvey Brough’s Requiem in Blue and Crass Agenda.

Tapestry Unravelled is possibly her most personal album
to date – a duo with pianist Liam Noble. Yet it may also be
her most accessible, comprising songs  from
Carole King’s Tapestry. This archetypal singer-songwriter
LP is packed with hits, many of them recognisable
to people whose parents weren’t even teenagers when
King wrote Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

Each of Tapestry’s songs seems to encapsulate a specific
feeling: first love, homesickness, optimism, regret, friendship.
King’s original recordings were played and sung simply.
Working with the blueprints created by King and her
collaborators, Tobin and Noble make fresh new shapes:
a barnstorming Beautiful; the gospelly You Make Me Feel
Like a Natural Woman; a moving, almost classical reading
of So Far Away.

Not withstanding the “Bleeding Gums” Murphy version of Jazzman
– in the Round Springfield episode of The Simpsons – King’s songs
have rarely been treated as jazz material. Noble’s arrangements
avoid the cliched “ching-ching” of 70s singer-songwriter piano,
finding space for reharmonisations and delicious passing notes in
King’s moody chords. Live in the intimate 606 Club, both musicians
resisted the temptation to make Tapestry Unravelled overly cerebral.
The hard-won musicality packed into songs such as I Feel The Earth Move
was more emotionally direct than any number of long improvisations.

The duo performed a handful of non-King songs, including
Milton Nascimento’s Ponta de Areia, Steve Swallow’s setting
of Robert Creeley’s She Was Young, and a gorgeous reading of
the Gershwins’ Embraceable You. But the main event was the
way Tobin found something fresh, affecting and deeply human
in King’s timeless pop music.


5 ***** review in THE IRISH TIMES by RAY COMISKEY


Tapestry Unravelled – CD of the Week

Trail Belle Records


Keeping it simple as well as good is one of the most difficult things in any art.
And it’s a sign of maturity when someone pulls it off as superbly as
Christine Tobin does, with the significant help of pianist Liam Noble.,
in this visit to one of the most celebrated pop
albums of all time: Carole Kings Tapestry (1972).

It’s also a surprise. As a singer  and songwriter, Tobin has forged a
strikingly original voice out of diverse jazz, folk and classical influences,
and her albums have mostly featured her own richly suggestive writing.
On the rare times she has done material by, say, Dylan or Leonard Cohen,
it is reworked and transformed. But she takes the generally uncomples
vision of King’s Tapestry – songs of love, loneliness, relationships,
occasionally allegorical – and treats it with compelling,
visceral directness.

The original album is bound up with memories of Tobin’s sister,
who died last year and to whom the new one is dedicated, so in a sense
it’s a conduit for Tobin’s feelings about those memories and a way of
keeping them alive.

Personal resonances aside, there is the sheer quality of Tobin’s
performance and the collaboration with Noble that makes this album
so special.  There’s a kind of alchemy at work, particularly in how she
uses her warmly distinctive voice,  malleable, poised phrasing and
impeccable intonation to get inside the material and make it personal.
Even the most well-known songs  (You’ve Got a Friend, Home Again, So Far Away,
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
)  have their intimate, one-to-one feelings, tender,

sensual and vulnerable, renewed and intensified.

More assertive songs are similarly absorbed and refreshed.
It’s Too Late
and the limited I Feel the Earth Move are delivered with

authority and plenty of oomph, while the yearning, gospel-flavoured
Way Over Yonder
and the allegorical Tapestry unite a sense of

otherness with the feel of life lived.

Noble’s role as accompanist and soloist combines the individual
and the apt so well that it’s impossible to conceive of the album without him;
the folk ballad Smackwater Jack, with no vocal, is his solo feature.

Incidentally, the original album’s Where You Lead is left out:
its servile lyrics don’t chime with how women,
rightly, see themselves now.
Published: July 13, 2010

For many jazz singers, the Great American Songbook is the body of work that must be delved
into and reinterpreted. In more recent years, the work of writers such as Tom Waits and
Nick Cave is emerging as the source for some fine jazz-based interpretations.
The singer/songwriters of the ’70s, perhaps surprisingly, have yet to become
such a central part of the jazz vocal canon, but singer Christine Tobin and pianist
Liam Noble may be set to change things with Tapestry Unravelled. This re-visioning
of Carole King’s multi-million selling Tapestry (Ode, 1971) is a beautiful, innovative
and very personal take on King’s songs, which delves deep into the originals’
emotions and imagery.

The idea for this album came from Tobin, who was introduced to Tapestry as a child
by her sister Deirdre. After Deirdre’s untimely death in 2009, Tobin sang “Beautiful”
at her memorial service. Soon afterwards Tobin enlisted Noble, an innovative pianist
who has played in the singer’s band for some years, to play these songs at a club gig,
and the response led them both to Curtis Schwartz’s recording studio. The entire
album was recorded at a single session.

The songs on Tapestry Unravelled are instantly recognizable, but Tobin and Noble
lend each of them a unique twist. In most cases Noble stays close to the melody,
but he’s also happy to make the occasional shift and turn to move the tune in
unexpected directions. “Smackwater Jack” epitomizes this—a solo piano piece
played with a percussive, jagged, style that gives the tune an edge missing
from its original incarnation.

Tobin’s voice is exceptional—strong, soulful and capable of delivering slow
ballads like “So Far Away” and up-tempo tunes such as “I Feel the Earth Move”
with equal skill. Her performance of “You’ve Got a Friend” is stunning—
a strong vocal, but with small inflections and shifts in emphasis that
reinvigorate the tune and invest the lyric with a genuine emotional resonance.
Piano and voice come together most effectively on “So Far Away”—Noble keeps it simple,
with soft, rich chords that leave plenty of space for Tobin’s voice before moving into a
delightfully atmospheric solo. A Tobin original, “Closing Time”—written specially for
the album—is the final track. It’s a delicate, slightly mysterious, ballad on which
Noble’s percussive piano sits perfectly with Tobin’s vocal interpretation.

Comparisons with the original Tapestry will inherently figure largely in discussions
about Tapestry Unravelled, but in many ways do this current recording a disservice.
Tobin and Noble have created an extremely affecting collection of beautifully-crafted
songs about love and life that stands on its own as a potential classic.

The Jazz Breakfast review by Peter Bacon

Disc of the day: 29-06-10

Christine Tobin & Liam Noble: Tapestry Unravelled (Trail Belle Records, distrib Proper

Note TBR01)

In addition to writing some pretty fab stuff herself, the Irish-born, Kent and London resident
singer has shown herself to be a wonderful interpreter of other people’s songs. She has leaned
increasingly to covering Leonard Cohen rather than Rodgers and Hart, and when her older
sister, Deirdre, died last year, Christine recalled how Deirdre had played Carole King’s
Tapestry so much when the sisters were young, and how strongly she linked that album to
her. So this project is dedicated to the memory of Deirdre. One doesn’t need to know that to feel
the rich resonances in the music.

The singer and her pianist collaborator have changed the order of the songs and Christine has
added her original Closing Time to round the album out, but otherwise this is all the songs on
King’s Tapestry LP given new interpretations. What is remarkable is how much is achieved
in such an apparently unadventurous way. No, that’s not quite the right word, because in a
way the most adventurous thing to do is to sing these songs fairly straight and unadorned, and
to play them in a relatively unjazzy way, too.

There are few leaps off into improvisation, certainly not from Tobin and only from Noble in
the most sensitive and subtle ways. Both musicians have come to that point in their art, it
seems, where they have realised the beauty of simplicity and straightforwardness. It’s often
the most difficult thing for jazz musicians to do – to avoid the tendency to show off – and yet
it is the key to really great music. And I think this is really great music.

Of course you might be wondering – probably especially so if, like me,
you also grew up with the original Tapestry album and have it kind of hard-wired into your
youth – why you would need another version of it. It’s a thought that completely dissolved
for me about 42 seconds into the opening track, Beautiful. Noble’s chunky yet graceful piano
intro and the nuanced phrasing of Tobin’s first line were enough to convince me that this disc
was going to become even more special to me than King’s.

Songs you have heard a million times and often murdered by poor singers – like You’ve Got
A Friend, for example – come up reinvigorated and filled with new depth of feeling. The pair
do some lovely spontaneous things at the end of It’s Too Late, while Home Again features a
beautiful solo from Noble in the middle of a beautiful bit of singing from Tobin.

It’s not really a CD that I would want to spend a lot of time analysing and trying to describe –
that would be to interfere with the magic of it. So suffice to say, if this disc sells as many as
Carole King’s original, the world will undoubtedly be a better place. It might have been made
as a response to a death, but I can’t remember when I last heard a more direct and profound
affirmation of life.



Christine Tobin & Liam Noble

Tapestry Unravelled ****

Trail Belle Records TBR01

Christine Tobin (v) and Liam Noble (p).

How do you improve on pop perfection? Quite simple, really.
First, enlist the help of musical polymath Liam Noble
on a wonderfully rich Steinway grand piano. Second,
strip away the string quartet, the backing vocals and all
the other excess textural baggage. Third, sing the songs as
honestly and purely as possible, while adding your own subtle twist.
See, easy. Dedicated to the memory of her eldest sister, Deirdre,
who first introduced Christine to Carole King’sTapestry, the genius of
Tapestry Unravelled is the way in which it pays sincere homage to the
spirit of the original while simultaneously opening up an entirely new
window onto these classic songs.

From the majestic falsetto leap in ‘Beautiful’ to the emotional candour
of  ‘So Far Away’ to the summary feel of the self-penned ‘Closing Time’,
it draws you into a world of elegiac reflection, plaintive melody and
unalloyed soulfulness. Liam Noble brings the entire spectrum of his
pianistic brilliance to the date, creating watercolour accompaniments
which support and enfold the voice quite magnificently. Definitely one
for my year-end ‘Best of’ list.


The Arts Desk review of live gig by Peter Quinn

Christine Tobin and Liam Noble, Lauderdale House

Friday, 07 May 2010 03:01 Written by Peter Quinn

Shining a new light on cherished classics:
pianist Liam Noble and vocalist Christine Tobin photo by Curtis Schwartz

A bad cover version can be a dangerous thing. Imagine, for example,
that your first encounter with the brilliant Gershwins was Kiri Te Kanawa’s
egregious Kiri Sings Gershwin. This, potentially, could be so distressing that
it might put you off George and Ira for life. In fact, it could put you off music for life.
Rather than “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, Michael Bolton’s typically
understated take makes you want to throw yourself in. And then there’s
Sting’s John Dowland tribute, Songs From The Labyrinth. This was released
over two years ago, so there’s a possibility that Dowland has now stopped
spinning in his grave. But I doubt it.

The euphoric flipside, of course, is when an artist shines brilliant new l
ight on a cherished classic. Or, in the case of Christine Tobin and Liam Noble,
classics. In the congenial setting of Lauderdale House – this was the closest
you’ll get to having Christine sing in your living room – the duo unveiled
their stunning new album Tapestry Unravelled. A tribute to Carole King’s
award-winning magnum opus, many of the album’s songs –
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, “You’ve Got A Friend” – have long since
been absorbed into the white noise of our thoughts. But by stripping away Tapestry‘s
broad textural palette to leave just voice and piano, Tobin and Noble uncover an
entirely new sense of space, intimacy and poetic power.Hearing the duo’s delicately spun versions of
“Home Again”, “Way Over Yonder” and the title track performed with such candour made you appreciate
anew the perfectly crafted beauty of King’s songs. “So Far Away” was especially moving,
not least for Noble’s captivating solo, an extended reverie which seemed to chart
unknown depths of lonesomeness. By contrast, his one solo vehicle of the evening,
a radical reworking of “Smackwater Jack”, was a seething mass of polyrhythms
and pounding bass ostinatos that was a world away from the chugging bass and
drums of the original. The singer’s self-penned “Just Your Friend” in the first set,
and Milton Nascimento’s “Ponta de Areia” in the second, offered respite
(not that any was needed) from the all-King programme.

More important than any textural detail, rhythmic sleight of hand or harmonic detour,
was Tobin’s spine-tingling voice. Coupling a magnificently rich timbre with an intense d
epth of feeling, the singer eloquently captured both the sadness and joy of these timeless songs,
imbuing them with an even greater expressive warmth and luminosity.

Officially released on 28 June, Tapestry Unravelled deserves the widest possible audience.

The Independent review by Phil Johnson

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Following the death of her elder sister Deirdre, who had introduced her to Carole King’s
Tapestry album as a child, Irish vocalist Tobin was moved to return to this most iconic set of
songs and interpret them anew with the brilliant pianist Liam Noble, a regular partner.

Not everything works (what can you do with “Smackwater Jack?”), yet half are close to
perfect. All the most familiar numbers are done well but “Home Again” and “So Far Away”
are empathetic masterpieces, Tobin’s bluesy voice wailing mightily.


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