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Victoria Vox | ...And Her Jumping Flea (Obus Music)

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On the ten-track Obus Music disc under examination, in any event, Vox’s “jumping flea” (what the native Hawaiian phrase ‘ukulele means) deliciously emphasizes her lilting, slightly breathy vocals, polished these past few years by a road warrior’s life.

By this CD 

On a recent Hawaiian tour, Victoria Vox was awarded both a $1,500 instrument and a sponsorship from Honolulu’s KoAloha Ukulele. Now, listeners who missed her gigs in Oahu and Maui—here, in all likelihood, we can forgo a show of hands—can learn what so impressed the folks at KoAloha, with the blissful issuance of Victoria Vox and Her Jumping Flea.

A uke reportedly accompanied Bruce Springsteen on his own most recent tour, and a mid-November New York Times piece suggested a resurgence of popularity for the tiny four-stringed guitar (a descendent of the Portuguese cavaquinho). A shift in the zeitgeist? Perhaps; perhaps not. On the ten-track Obus Music disc under examination, in any event, Vox’s “jumping flea” (what the native Hawaiian phrase ‘ukulele means) deliciously emphasizes her lilting, slightly breathy vocals, polished these past few years by a road warrior’s life.

Ironically, this latest CD from the Wisconsin singer/songwriter opens with a vintage cover: “Ukulele Lady” from 1925. For obvious reasons, only a twit would quibble with that choice, and she performs the tongue-tangling Richard A. Whiting–Gus Kahn ditty with delightful brio. Other covers include the (duh) French “Le Vent Nous Portera,” David Byrne’s “Psycho Killer,” and—following in the crater-sized footsteps of Hawaiian ukulele legend Israel “Braddah Iz” Kamakawiwo‘ole—a medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World,” on all of which cellist Paul Kim and other musicians more than ably provide support. Rounding out Victoria Vox and Her Jumping Flea are five originals, among them the poignant “America”; the gonzo “Yodelayheehoo,” co-written with Vox’s Tres Femmes bandmate Stolie, who also contributes harmonies and (woo, baby!) kazoo; and the blithe “Christmas With You,” a yuletide standard waiting to happen. It almost goes without saying that the disc constitutes a mélange—but what a glorious mélange!


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