If the opening three tracks of Clara Ponty’s latest album don’t seduce your ears, the chances are they’re not working properly. Ponty, daughter of Zappa/Mahavishnu violinist Jean-Luc, manages to dazzle and delight in equal measures across Taking Turns, Sunshine and Like A Dandelion, all imbued with a mischievous sense of melody, swooping violins, jazzy piano and Ponty’s own splendid voice.
It’s amazing to think that, up until now (three largely instrumental albums veering between jazz and classical) Ponty has only ever used her voice as an instrumental foil. Here, under the auspices of Peter Gabriel and Yes producer Stuart Bruce, she sings for the first time on record – you wonder why she hasn’t done this before.
Musically it’s not prog per se, but those who enjoy Kate Bush’s more inviting moments will delight in Ponty’s evocative piano playing on Soul Wonders; the playful Spinning Wheels even echoes Bush’s own Army Dreamers melody.
She eases into the final straight with the lilting The Phoenix, and the more progressively minded Coeur à Coeur and Ses Racines Sur La Route, by which time one can’t help but be won over by this delight of an artist.