By Michael Sutton
You can pitch this to fans of Norah Jones but any similarities between the two are merely on the surface level. Torch is not a solo artist although the sultry vocals of Seela Misra will probably be the focus of attention. Of course, with a voice like this – calming, romantic, sometimes flirty – how can she not be? Where the two quickly part is that Misra actually has a band, which gives these songs more heft and power.
Featuring Chris Vestre (guitar), Chris Maresh and Mike Porter (bass), Jon Greene (drums), Evan Jacobs (piano), David Chenu (sax), and Ephraim Owens (trumpet), Torch is a well-defined and versatile unit. The group is perfectly in synch with Misra’s every vocal move, whether it calls for a loving tone (“Alone Together”) or something with more attitude (“My Baby Just Cares for Me”). “The Colder Months” rides on a laid-back lounge groove with exquisite guitar work and throbbing bass lines. “Is It Enough” quickens the tempo with lively piano and propulsive drums. Mixing original material with some extraordinary covers (their version of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” erupts with scorching sax), Charmed offers a stunningly accomplished portrait of an artist worth seeking out.