Singer Marilyn Scott’s lengthy career has involved both pop and jazz. Her latest album, “Standard Blue” contains the dreamy single, “Never Let Me Go.” The song’s success rests partially on the fact that it exudes calm. Scott’s voice matches the timbre of the soundscape, which makes “Never Let Me Go” smooth and understated. If listeners don’t pay attention, they risk missing the subtle tension that helps the song succeed.
“Never Let Me Go” by Marilyn Scott
Without knowing anything about Marilyn Scott, and only hearing “Never Let Me Go,” listeners understand how the singer is using her voice. Scott’s warm voice meshes with the soundscape. The sound of the song is resplendent with the buoyant sound of an upright bass’ strings being manipulated and then reverberating with what sounds like a rich echo of sound. As the song continues, the soundscape gets more complicated (relatively) with a shimmer of drums. The multi-dimensional instrumentation is understated so that even though Scott is singing in a laidback way, her voice is not pushed into the background.
Still, “Never Let Me Go” never sounds crowded, or busy. While there are many jazz songs that invite listeners to move, Scott’s work here invites active listening. Audiences are compelled to explore what the song is doing and to listen again to figure out the behavior or movement of specific parts of the instrumentation.
Lyrically, the song’s narrative is simple. The phrasing and imagery it evokes recalls the way poetry functions. It is a song about a passionate relationship. When Scott asks, “You wouldn’t hurt me would you?” The last two words, “…would you?” shows Scott seeking validation for her assessment of the relationship. There is a pause between “would you” and the rest of the sentence. This phrasing choice undermines the confidence that had permeated the song previously.
“Never Let Me Go” reminds listeners of the way water ripples when its surface is disturbed. As soon as one level of complexity is figured out another appears. Audiences have to listen to the song more than once to fully appreciate what the song has to offer. But that is a good thing. Scott’s work here is infused with beauty.