This 27-year old Santa Cruz native comes from a family of jazz musicians. Her mother's a singer. Her brother's a drummer, and her late father was one of the Bay Area's most respected pianists. Though Sasha embraced the family tradition, singing standards for years in piano bars, she didn't find her true voice until she fell in with a pair of acoustic singer-songwriters from Brooklyn.
Jesse Harris and Richard Julian, both artists on their own, are also the ones who discovered Norah Jones, and subsequently wrote songs for her. Impressed by Dobson, the pair collaborated with her to produce this winning album of boho folk-jazz.
Dobson's voice is like cool water--light, clear, refreshingly direct in an era of gross oversinging. While the comparison to Norah Jones is probably inevitable, especially on cocktail strolls like "Without You," "Follow Through," and the lovely "End Of Autumn," Dobson branches out beyond the Greenwich Village jazz sound. "Cold To Colder" coasts on a Tejano bounce while "Spring Is Just Around The Corner" and "Four Leaf Clover" are laced with the kind of laconic country feel that brings to mind Lyle Lovett at his best. Dobson casts her net even further by covering Duke Ellington ("Mood Indigo") and the punk band the Yeah Yeah Yeah's ("Modern Romance").
A low-key charmer, this is the kind of album that, while it may not sell millions a la Norah Jones, still feels like it could be the beginning of a distinguished career. • Bill DeMain