Deb Bowman sings with passion and power on “Fast Heart”

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Deb Bowman’s latest CD, “Fast Heart” represents her second album as a leader. The recording uses elements of Bowman’s career as an actress and cabaret performer to illustrate her tremendous power as a singer and a storyteller.

“Fast Heart” is dedicated to Bowman’s sister, Patti, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer years ago. The color and design of the CD, a turquoise butterfly, matches that of the ovarian cancer awareness ribbon. Further, a portion of the proceeds will go to ovarian cancer research.

About Deb Bowman

Bowman’s musical prowess was evident at age 5 when she began singing. Then, at age 8, Bowman began playing piano. She advanced so quickly that by age 12, she was offered a recording contract with a Christian music company. Wanting to protect her childhood, Bowman’s parents opted not to allow her to sign the contract. Bowman did however, study music and drama in high school, and majored in classical theatre and dance.

Bowman’s professional career has included singing and acting jobs in New York City and around on the world on a cruise ship. Her most recent television work includes the show “Ugly Betty.”

Her first album, “Addicted to Love Songs” was released in 2011.

Sound and style: “Fast Heart” by Deb Bowman

“Fast Heart” is a mix of originals and cover songs. On each, Bowman displays a varied and thoughtful skill set that brings each song to life in unforgettable ways. Two of the unique songs on this album are “Willow in the Wind” that opens the recording, and “Shelter Me from the Storm,” which closes it.

“Willow in the Wind” by Deb Bowman

A trumpet sets the classic jazz tone of the song. It is layered over gently brushing drums, unassuming bass and a bright piano sound. Soon, though, Bowman’s vocals take over the soundscape. Despite the classic jazz instrumentation, Bowman’s voice recalls the sound styling found in 1980s r&b. When she moves from her lower range to very high notes for a short vamping moment toward the end, the result is an electrified sound. Certainly, those notes were unexpected. The phrasing, the crisp enunciation, work to make the song more meaningful because listeners can hear exactly what she is saying. She uses unexpected word choice, so the lyrics never become too stereotypical. For example, Bowman sings “…you bring my mind to ease,” as opposed to the more commonplace, “you set my mind at ease.” Small touches like that play an effective role in advancing this CD beyond the level of the typical release.

“Shelter Me from the Storm” by Deb Bowman

The organ’s emotive and energized quality with a touch of blues gives the song its swaying feel. At this point in the CD, Bowman has overwhelmed her listeners with the different qualities her voice can demonstrate. Audiences have heard jazz stylings, pop approaches, and even heard at least one song sung in French by the time they reach the end of the CD. Even with knowledge of Bowman’s Gospel roots, the sound is difficult to imagine given how easily she approaches other styles. But listeners soon discover that it isn’t just the instrumentation that informs them that “Shelter Me from the Storm” has Gospel roots, Bowman’s voice does that as well.

Bowman sings with powerful conviction, complete with a slight growl as she gets her point across. However, the song is not built solely on medium and lower-ranged notes. When Bowman gets to the stratospheric notes, there is just as much power there, too. The song is completed by an instrumental break while the voices of what sounds like a choir sing the chorus. The entirety of the song is unexpected on a jazz album and it is to Bowman’s credit that she was able to pull off such a feat on just her second album as a leader.

Despite the sad inspiration for the album, “Fast Heart” is a wonderful exploration of style and performance tropes. If there was any doubt that Bowman could pull off several styles on one album, the work here dispels that.

“Fast Heart” will be available for purchase Aug. 29, 2019. The songs on “Fast Heart” are scheduled to be performed by Bowman at Birdland in New York City, Sept. 22, 2019. The date marks the 10th anniversary of Patti’s passing.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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