|“Wendy Waller has a distinctive voice that imbues character into every note she sings. (She) slyly charms listeners with her subtle strength and sassy humor.”
-Marc Burkhardt, Palo Alto Weekly
On “Traces of Grace” by Wendy Waller
Her latest offering, "Traces of Grace," is nothing short of beautiful. It comprises ten songs, some of which Wendy wrote and some covers. Her style can best be described as folksy jazz with just a hint of country.
Some of the standout tracks on "Traces of Grace" are the covers, because of her extraordinary interpretations of classic songs such as Rod Argent’s “Time of the Season.” This particular tune has always had a strong sexual element, but when Wendy gives it her jazzed-up treatment, it takes sexy to a whole new level. Her smoky vocals will leave listeners breathless.
The best cover, hands down, has to be “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination.” Gladys Knight and the Pips made this song famous, and now Wendy is putting her own spin to it. Unlike the Pips’ version, Wendy slows it down. The lyrics pour from her mouth like a good whisky which leaves you a bit tipsy if you sample more than a glass. The only way you can describe her singing would be “smooth.”
Another beautifully done song is her interpretation of the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “I Like It Like That.” The Miracles’ version is lively and smooth, but in Wendy’s hands the song takes on a more bluesy tone, and some of the notes she hits will blow your mind.
It would be wrong to ignore the songs that Wendy wrote for "Traces of Grace." The album opener, “Get It Right,” is a bluesy country number that may have some listeners thinking of Janis Joplin. The tune really rocks out and makes you want to move. “Trace of The Heart” is just the opposite. It is a more laid-back song, with guitars that wail in sadness, which is perfect complement to a song about a lover who has gone.
Her voice soars on “Be My Baby,” a song with a heaping helping of blues. This one sounds more than a little like Bonnie Raitt.
"Traces of Grace" is full of memorable tracks that will have you coming back to listen again, but none so much as “Folding.” This song, above all others, really shows the world the strength of Wendy’s voice as well as her talent as a songwriter. “Folding” is more an adult contemporary love song, which alone sets it apart from the rest of an album that otherwise features plenty of blues and folksy-country-sounding tunes.
The album closes with “No More,” written by Toots Camarata and recorded by Billie Holliday in 1944. Although it is hard to make comparisons between the two versions, it is safe to say that Wendy’s version is just as good as the original.
"Traces of Grace" is one of those rare gems -- an album that can be played from start to finish without a bad song in sight. This is truly a must-listen for any music lover.”
Some of her best performances come through on the disc’s opening numbers, “Get it Right,” and “Trace of Your Heart,” both of which were written by Waller. “Time of the Season” has Waller singing beautifully in the opening phrasing with beautiful musical accompaniment while the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles tune, “I Like it Like That,” is almost unrecognizable after Waller strips it of its soul component and re-infuses it with bits of country and blues.
The music featured on "Traces of Grace" is as vital to the sound of the disc as are the vocals. Both rely on the other for the songs to be successful and that works to Waller’s benefit. The exceptional musicianship of her supporting cast makes good songs sound better. The two are in sync, providing each with the opportunity to influence and support the direction the disc takes without the unnecessary extras. Where Waller belts, the music bows. Where the music grooves, the vocals glide.
Waller is a singer’s singer and "Traces of Grace" is a singer’s recording. Every note that she hits and every word that she sings is an offering of Waller’s heart and soul. Take it or leave it.”
-Bridget Arwine / Jazz Police
“Wendy Waller's new recording, "Traces of Grace," is a wonderful blend of Jazz, New Orleans style grooves and American roots music. With a sparkling voice, melodic songs and great musicians, Wendy Waller has arrived as an artist with a vision for the future.”
-Wayne Wallace, 2010 Grammy Award nominee
Five stars: “Waller's versatility and fascinating stylings make this one of my favorite new albums. I especially love her rendition of "No More" -- Billie Holiday, My apologies, but Wendy does it better. "Get It Right" is super wake-up music.
On Wendy Waller
“Wendy Waller is a jazz stylist with such an extensive range that talent scouts joke about goblets being in danger when she hits her high notes.”
-Ward Winslow, San Jose Mercury News
“Wendy Waller has a distinctive voice that imbues character into every note she sings. (She) slyly charms listeners with her subtle strength and sassy humor.”
-Marc Burkhardt, Palo Alto Weekly
“Waller is a wailer; she may well be the best female vocalist to come from the San Jose State University jazz studies program.”
“A phenomenal talent.”
-Metro Guide Jazz Notes
“Wendy Waller looks like a 40’s movie star and sings like a sassy songbird who saunters into a crowded room just to tell it like it is. Twangy blues chords back Waller’s powerful voice, which is as comfortable with easygoing songs as it is with belt-it-out numbers.”