The New York native who resides in England is a formidable presence on the modern jazz scene. This is her fourth album exploring the standards and the reviews have all been sterling. The emphasis here is on the ballads and her breathy emphasis and phrasing are nothing less than spectacular and riveting. Her vocals are not "dressed up" or enhanced by studio technique. What you get is pure, raw singing talent that shines like a fine jewel.
Strictly in terms of recognizable standards, Stacey Kent
's 2001 album, Dreamsville
, might be hard-pressed to measure up to her 2000 NPR smash Let Yourself Go
, a snappy, swinging tribute to the great dancer-singer-actor Fred Astaire, but it's still a sterling example of the girlish charm of London's top jazz vocalist. This collection of ballads ranges from the Gershwins ("I've Got a Crush on You," the underrated "Isn't It a Pity") to Henry Mancini (the dreamy title tune) all the way to Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman ("Hushabye Mountain" from the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
). That it works seamlessly is a tribute to the singer's relaxed way with a lyric, excellent support and solos from a band featuring reedman Jim Tomlinson
(Kent's husband), guitarist Colin Oxley, and pianist David Newton, and solid arrangements by Kent and Tomlinson. --David Horiuchi