Nazia Chaudhry, who goes by the nickname Naz, has a voice that could charm the pants off an eighteenth century puritan. She also happens to be playing at Churchill Grounds tonight in Atlanta. Today I listened to her debut album, Time After.
Naz’s rendition of Time After seems to stop time. Naz’s new take on the Cyndi Lauper hit is like an ocean breeze through a seaside mansion. She attacks Fly Me to the Moon with the playfulness of a cat with a ball of yarn. Gliding through the verses lightly, her singing is as cavalier as a Saturday afternoon in the park with that special someone. Gentle piano chords usher in That’s All, laying the pavement for Naz to purr the lyrics of the love song. As the upright bass walks along on a double date with her, the piano, and cymbals, I wonder what to serve at the dinner party I’ll plan around this album. Naz really warms up in this song, the power in her voice towards the end is a stark contrast to the breathy beginning, but she had me lulled into such a reverie, I hardly noticed the change at all.
If I Should Lose You opened my eyes again. The crispness of Naz’s voice and the vocal control are astounding throughout. She bobs and weaves through the verses with agility and heart. The sax over Latin piano really got me wiggling and wishing I was back in a salsa club I used to frequent, where the waiters wore white fedoras and would materialize out of thin air to light a lady’s cigarette. The percussion at the end is truly impressive, the sort of solo that forces my eyes shut and makes me throw my head from side to side in pure musical ecstasy. I found myself wiggling again right from the start of So Danco Samba. Naz’s voice is as clear and bright as the world after two caipirinhas, and the jazz sax is the meat in the feijoada. Você quer dançar comigo?
If I Loved You starts like rain in the springtime. The piano, backed by soft percussion and bass, complement Naz’s smooth and controlled voice. My Romance is yet another showcase of Naz’s vocal talents. Taking a Chance on Love pulls the listener in with an infectious instrumental beat, then Naz grabs you with that killer voice. She makes scatting sound easy, skipping through the notes with audible glee. This is an artist who is in love with her work, and you can hear it.
Naz’s version of Never Never Land is destined for Peter Pan’s next appearance on the silver screen. At least it should be. The track is a cover that is, at the same time, updated and timeless. She strings along the piano with her clear articulation and sumptuous sound, rounded out with a smooth glissando. From the slow, sultry start of The Very Thought of You, I wondered how, like the other covers on the album, Naz would make it her own. When her larger than life voice made its appearance, any thought in my mind vanished. Naz’s voice full and embracing, it filled my head and all I could think was: I want more. I just wish I were in Atlanta tonight to see her sing live! If you are wondering what to do in Atlanta on a Friday night, tonight you should be at Churchill Grounds to listen to Naz.