Renee Geyer - Difficult Woman

Featured album from our weekly newsletter #11-2024 (April 2024)

Difficult Woman is the ninth studio album by Australian soul and R&B singer Renée Geyer, originally released in September 1994 via Larrikin Records.

Difficult Woman was produced by Paul Kelly and recorded in the US with a set of cracking session musicians including John Molo on drums (Bruce Hornsby & The Range), Jimmy Haslip on bass (Yellowjackets), Johnny Lee Schell on guitars, Marty Grebb on keyboards (The Buckinghams) and Lenny Castro on percussion.

A number of the songs on the album were written by Paul Kelly, and will be familiar to many listeners, however they are very distinctively Renée Geyer songs with great soul and R&B arrangements.

The album opens with “Close” which features Castro’s percussion prominently with a funky groove and also a sitar solo which adds a nice contrasting feature to the song. Her take on “Careless” is also very cool with a fresh summer vibe, with Geyer weaving in and out of the backing vocalists. Paul Kelly features with a spoken word piece in the song.

The title track “Difficult Woman”, also written by Kelly, is a perfect fit for Geyer. Slow and brooding as she sings words that come from the heart “…She's had to be tough all of her life / So she's built herself a wall / She doesn't know how to trust herself / So it's hard for her to trust at all / A difficult woman needs a special kind of friend…”. This song was to become one of her signature tunes.

She does a very stripped back and moving cover of the Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows” accompanied by only piano, that shows off the emotive quality of her vocal abilities.

She also does a lovely interpretation of the jazz standard “He Was Good To Me”, beautifully restrained as well, like you could be sitting in a jazz club, chilling out to some live music on stage.

She has a co-write with Kelly and John Clifforth (Deckchairs Overboard) on “Summer, Winter, Spring And Fall”, which has a lovely Latin jazz feeling with guest guitars and vocals provided by legendary Brazilian musician Dori Caymmi.

Another of her original tracks “Real” (co-written with Canadian musician John Capek), is a mid-tempo piano driven track, on which she sings her heart out, one of “The Captain’s” favourite tracks on the album. It has a lovely trumpet solo as well.

The album closes out with another Geyer original (co-written with John Clifforth) “Trouble” , featuring upright bass that gives it a cool jazz bar feeling as well, as she sings in and out of guitar and organ licks. A perfect way to close the album.

Difficult Woman was her first studio album in nine years and helped re-establish her career in Australia. It’s a beautiful album and Paul Kelly stays true to Geyer’s style and sound in the producer’s chair. It is wonderful to have a Renée Geyer album released on vinyl following her sad passing in January 2023. It makes you appreciate what an amazing singer and interpreter of song she was, and why she garnered so much respect internationally as a vocalist.

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