|Cassandra WilsonOn the surface, the elements of Thunderbird, the inimitable vocalist Cassandra Wilson's seventh album for Blue Note, may seem familiar to those listeners who have embraced her past albums going back to 1993's Blue Light 'Til Dawn and the Grammy Award-winning New Moon Daughter. Pop songs, classic blues, folk ballads and jazz sensibilities all find common ground with Cassandra's honeyed vocals wrapped around them. But immediately upon first listen to Thunderbird, an entirely new dimension makes itself known. Primal, warmly intimate and extremely detailed in its nuances, Thunderbird is an aural delight to behold.A postmodern expression of roots music produced by the acclaimed T Bone Burnett (their first collaboration), Thunderbird does possess a very different sound: dense, humid, sensual, almost tactile. A sound characterized by live-on-the-floor performances accented by studio technology but still retaining their essential organic qualities. An acoustic bass line may play subtly throughout the track, then move into the foreground with sudden and dramatic impact. A lone slide guitar, intertwined with Cassandra's voice, can conjure the weight and density of a full band.Credit Cassandra with once again breaking free of familiar formulae and easy routes. Credit T Bone with Thunderbird's atmospheric magic and for assembling an exceptional supporting cast in sessions that took place between November 2004 through June 2005 at various studios in L.A. (Capitol, The Village Recorder, The Green Room, and T Bone's own Electro Magnetic) and New York (Dangerous Music)."You know, most modern recording studios are pretty much the same," Cassandra notes. "That is, unless you doctor them. I think great producers know how to do that, and T Bone Burnett is certainly in that group of great producers. He makes certain modifications that I can't really go into detail about, because I think they're secret. There are personal techniques that he uses in order to cater the studio, to get the sounds he wants to get."