Naïm Amor's signature French-and-English mix of jazz, pop and rock shifts toward the tropical on his latest album, a 12-song set that conjures a long afternoon of breezy tranquility. Dansons is a relaxed record, with nimble guitar work, unhurried beats and flourishes of strings, piano, accordion and oboe.
Amor sings in French about half the time, with several songs in English and a couple of songs on which the vocals amount to nonverbal humming or oooohs. It's that mix of languages and styles that gives Dansons its transcendent, day-dream quality.
Amor lined up a skilled and agile band that treads lightly: Matt Mitchell on nylon-string guitar, Arthur Vint on drums and Thøger Lund on upright bass. Guests musicians include Howe Gelb on Wurlitzer, Marco Rosano on accordion, Christian Ravaglioli on oboe, Emilie Marchand on vocals and John Convertino on drums. Dansons was recorded with Jim Waters at Waterworks.
The record is strong throughout, but peaks in the middle, with a standout trio that whisks away the mind: the perky "On Se Tient," the swaying and dreamy "The Other Step" and the Brazilian-inspired "Son Grand Sourire."
A chameleon of a musician who's active in myriad projects, Amor is intriguing when he takes the reins as a songwriter. With a shade of mystery, Dansons captures the sort of contentment that comes when the day's concerns have been bottled up and set aside.