Right from the opening drum beat and the fan-fair introduction from the brass of the big band, it is evident this album was going to be something special. This album marks Clare Teal’s debut for Sony Jazz and is the better of them, cynics at the time could be forgiven for thinking Sony were jumping on the crest of the Jamie Cullum band wagon of the time but Clare already had a number of albums under her belt at the time. The opening track Messin’ with Fire has all the hall markings of a classic jazz anthem and I find it somewhat puzzling that it hasn’t been picked up yet and become a standard, ah well never mind. The number has a wonderful retro feel about it in its lyrics about ‘intimate relationships’ which utilises metaphor and implication to great success.
After the rip roaring opening track, the swing of things is kept up with a bouncy and upbeat cover “When In Roman” which opens with Clare perfectly scatting the riff played by the alto sax player, as the verse unfold the pace changes to a much more lounge feeling with the gentle plonks of the vibes bringing to mind the series of albums in which George Shearing collaborated with various singers. Soloing is not forgotten on the track and the bridge between vocal refrains treats us to a short but sweet solo on alto saxophone. The lounge feeling is continued in the next two tracks “Soul Stoned Picnic” and “Everything is You”, the former perhaps let down by some unnecessary backing vocals but the Latin feel of the subsequent track more the makes up for this blip. The haunting strings of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” tells us we are into ballad territory to slow the pace down, Clare proves her wide vocal range on this track which perhaps is a an area which people tend to over look her. The next big hitter on the album for me is “The Music Goes Round and Round” which is a novelty number but is performed with such gusto and the arrangement is so well done you can over look the fact that some of the lyrics perhaps should of been modified to reflect that Clare doesn’t play an instrument on the track. She is accompanied again by backing vocalists including within its numbers I believe, Anita Wardell and in this case the trio contributes well to the track and perfectly complements Clare’s scatting.
The title track “Don’t Talk” brings us back into ballad territory and while it is a good track I don’t feel it should have been selected as the title track. The remaining tracks are a mix of ballads and upbeat numbers including two Duke Ellington numbers: “Mood Indigo” and “In A Mellow Tone”. The album ends on an all time high with a hugely swinging take on Willie Dixon’s “I Just Wanna Make Love to You”; while the number probably won’t replace Etta James’ cover as the definitive version it is still a track which should be a part of every Jazz, Swing and Blues fan collection.
Overall, the album is a near perfect masterpiece which shows Clare Teal being to mature as an artist and leaves the path open to many different routes for subsequent albums. “Don’t Talk” is an excellent starting point for anyone unfamiliar with one of the little treasures of the British Jazz vocalist scene.