Produced and arranged by Leo Sidran
Recorded and Mixed by Hector Coulón at UML Studios, NYC
Hammond B3 recorded by Michael Brorby at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn
“Fool For You” original track recorded by Steve Addabbo at Shelter Island, NYC
“It’s You” piano track recorded by Mike Mancini
“Have You Ever” arranged by Leo Sidran & Gabrielle Aimée Sterbenz
Gabrielle Aimée Sterbenz: all vocals, except where indicated
Leo Sidran: all instruments, except where indicated
Ben Sidran: additional organ and Wurlitzer, "No Safe Jones"
Brendan B. Brown: backing vocal madness, "No Safe Jones"
Madison Ginger Poodle: the last word, "No Safe Jones"
Nadia Ackerman: backing vocals, "The Great Divide", "Look At Me"
Michael Mancini: piano, "It's You"
Tony Mason: drums, "Fool For You"
Duke Levine: guitar, "Fool For You"
Tim Luntzel: bass, "Fool For You"
Jonathan Dryden: organ and Wurlitzer, "Fool For You"
Gabrielle Aimée has the kind of timeless vocal quality that would have been at home singing pop music in any decade of the last 50 years. On her first solo release, she explores her artistic identity, channeling the voices and songwriters who influenced her when she was growing up.
“This was my first time writing, and I needed a safe place to do it – a real creative environment,” says Aimée. That environment would turn out to be the studio of songwriter / producer Leo Sidran. The two met in May of 2010 and soon began a weekly Friday afternoon writing and recording session that ultimately paved the way for Gabrielle Aimée. It was an informal process of creative experimentation.
The material on the record is informed by the music Gabrielle listened to as a kid. “The first part of the record is more influenced by where I came from. I used to be in a gospel choir, so there’s a little bit of Aretha. There’s also Bonnie Raitt. Linda Rondstadt and Rickie Lee Jones.”
In fact, many of stories behind the songs reveal a kind of reckoning with Aimée’s musical idols. The first song on the album, “No Safe Jones” opens with a drum-beat vaguely reminiscent of the Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”, something that did not happen by accident. “We wanted to write a song based on that particular rhythm. The song is about putting yourself out there and being bold, even if you fail, at least you went for it… I had heard Abbey Lincoln use the expression No Safe Jones and I loved it.”
“No Cure” was influenced by Tom Petty, and Gabrielle took advantage of the lazy groove to try a new vocal approach. “That was one of the first times I allowed myself to sing laid back. It has a mellow vocal style which is not what I was accustomed to doing, and I love the way it came out.”
Throughout the process of recording, Aimée continued to develop as an artist, and songs like “Have You Ever” reveal the minimalist, dramatic and atmospheric direction that she has taken for her most recent live performances.
But as is so often the case, what was once old becomes new again. Interestingly, the very first song that Aimée recorded with Sidran was a haunting version of the Bob Dylan classic “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”. “We recorded it on a day that I had broken up with someone and we got a really emotional and raw vocal take. We built the production around the vocal performance and I love how spare it is.”
On this, her first release, Gabrielle Aimée reveals herself to be an artist steeped in the tradition of the modern American songbook, and ready to be added to the list of classic singers. As she sings in “I Know Better”, “I already learned a few tricks of my own.”