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HAPPY SONGS is a departure from the contemporary, featuring new performances of the great masters of the American pop song from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The music featured - by Gershwin, Arlen, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart and others - was written during the darkest days of the Depression and World War II, and aimed to lift people's spirits and souls in hard times. The arrangements are crafted true to the period, ranging from big band or strings to duo-piano and solo guitar. Two present-day compositions also find their way into the album's program - by Michael John LaChiusa and Jay Leonhart - and both will be familiar to fans of McDonald's live shows.
Can a diva sing the blues? Past efforts at torch singing by the classically trained have sometimes left listeners feeling more stung than singed. But in tackling this slate of songs from the '30s and '40s (seasoned with a couple of newer, era-friendly tunes by Jay Leonhart and Michael John LaChiusa) for her third studio album, multiple Tony Award winner Audra McDonald has wisely remembered that plumbing their emotional core requires more than perfect vibrato and resonates from a place just slightly to the left of the diaphragm. McDonald claims this collection was inspired by the birth of her daughter. If that's the case, she is going to have one joyous, soulful child. The singer ranges from the gorgeous, delicate smoke of "I Must Have That Man" and the standard "More Than You'll Know" through the saucy jazz of Leonhart's "Beat My Dog" and loopy spunk of LaChiusa's "See What I Want to See" to the breathy blues of "Tess' Torch Song" and unabashed romance of the Gershwins' "He Loves and She Loves." And if the exotica-goes-Broadway ethos of the Brazilian "Bambalele" seems slightly askew, it nonetheless meets the album's happy criterion. --Jerry McCulley
Top customer reviews
The CD cover with it's recreation of 1941's Waiting Room is both creative and appropriate. I remember seeing that picture several times among the photographs of my older relatives.
It's really unfortunate that this is a time of musically unimaginative radio playlists. I think that those of us who grew up listening to radio in the seventies were probably the last generation that could hear a mix of different genres and singers on one channel. As a result of today's restrictive radio practices, much of the listening public is unaware of what an Audra McDonald has to offer. Hopefully her upcoming television show will give her the audience that she deserves.
Now I cannot wait for her next album.
But I heard it again this morning (Summer 2005, or The Year of Our Harold 100) and it knocked me out!! What great songs, what wonderful treatments, by Ted Sperling, Don Sebesky, and others, and above all what a great singer! Perfect cure for loss of faith in humankind, or at least singer-kind.
Thank you Audra. You are Definitely the best.
Don't miss this one!! Thank you, Audra!!!
Most recent customer reviews
One of the best albuns I have ever heard , and I have listened to thousands.Read more