Nancy Erickson Lamont, Through the Passages


Vital Flame Productions, May 2024


Fourth time’s a charm: Nancy Erickson Lamont recently released her fourth album — her first of all originals — Through the Passages. Lamont’s authorial voice shines as much as her physical, chronicling in scats as much as phrases what it means to pass through. Joining Lamont as producer is Grammy Award-winning singer Johnaye Kendrick. Lyrics were written in collaboration with pianists Shawn Schlogel and Darin Clendenin.

Lamont is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest music scene. Raised in Salem, OR, she was trained in jazz vocal performance at Edmonds College. Since then, she’s performed in the Sound for three decades. And, in 2012, she won the Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Competition. More recently, she’s been involved in KNKX Studio Sessions with her 2018 album, Here & Now, recorded by famed KNKX DJ Jim Wilke. Kendrick is similarly well-known in the PNW as professor of music at the Cornish College of the Arts and makes up a quarter of the vocal supergroup, säje.

The album’s central idea, that of moving through a passage, is rendered in multiple short vignettes. There’s the opening track, “Tick Tock,” a lament of the chaos of contemporary social life. The narrative leans literal rather than poetic and asks for sympathy to cut through political malaise. Other passages include, well, the track “Passages” (a thesis statement on change, transformation, and release as well as a farewell to a departed friend) and “Ghost.” The final track, “Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight” imagines both helping a sick child to sleep and sending off an ill parent. In this way, the passages tend to be ways of personal transformation, taking time to appreciate how our most intimate personal relationships move into and out of our lives. Lamont’s vocal playfulness comes to the fore in her scatting on “Did It Did or Did It Didn’t.” 

The album maintains a generally comfortable sonic palette of a night out at the jazz club. Instrumentals are provided by pianist Josh Nelson, Sean Jones, Shawn Schlogel, bassists Chris Symer and Michael Glynn, and drummer Stefan Schatz. While Lamont is the center of the album, her backing maintains an energy and bounce that is integral to giving Lamont space to make herself present.

Lamont’s new album is a striking move into original compositions and production that hopefully signals a new phase in her vocal career. The tracks are personal and sentimental with much love shown by Lamont for those in passage through her life.


Posted on

June 27, 2024