Stacey was born and raised in New York but moved to London and it was there that she embarked on a career as a jazz singer. Stacey is now a major name in British jazz and a new album release from her is always something to look forward to. Stacey claims Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Mildred Bailey among her influences, but her voice is more like Mildred's than the other two.
This debut album is a great showcase for Stacey's talents, with plenty of great covers of standards from the Great American Songbook, on which Stacey is backed by some of the finest musicians on the British jazz scene. Among the classics (mainly ballads) on this album are two Cole Porter songs (Dream dancing, It's de-lovely) and two co-written by Johnny Mercer (I'm old-fashioned, Day in day out), together with six other excellent songs. Stacey interprets the songs her way - superbly.
Experts will tell you that Stacey has perfected her craft with subsequent albums, but by my reckoning there really wasn't all that much room for improvement. This is a great jazz vocal album.
on July 29, 2001
Sometimes you get surprised. A while ago I was in purchasing an addition to the stereo system and the salesman demo'd using a Stacey Kent CD. My jaw dropped. Instantly.
I honestly don't remember which CD, so I gambled and picked up 'Close Your Eyes'. I've heard (and own) Diana Krall and Holly Cole (both great), considered Jane Monheit (jury is still out for me), occasionally delve into the coolness of Patricia Barber, but I gotta tell ya, Stacey doesn't have to take a back seat to any of these. There is this hard-to-define "something" in her voice and approach to the song that makes one stop dead in their tracks and go "whoa". Maybe the other reviewers can identify it. I'm not sure it's something definable in print.
As for the CD, I'll admit to liking the vocalist + quartet/quintent approach used on this album more than the typical singer + trio approach. Vocally, Stacey isn't as 'whispery' a stylist as, say, Diana Krall, but I like them both quite a bit for different reasons. Diana tends to be a bit more intimate and dreamy, Stacey a bit brighter and flirty. Both excellent, but very different sounds.
Staceys' sidemen just swing the house down, especially her pianist David Newton, and although I usually am not a big tenor sax fan, I certainly am on this one, with utterly superb work from Jim Tomlinson (who reminds me strongly of Stan Getz). Add in solid drumming, rhythm guitar and bass playing from cats who can hold their own with most anybody, top it off with a shimmering, gorgeous, uniquely styled & perfectly pitched voice, and you have a winner. After a few listens, I now must say this CD goes in my "stranded on an island" collection without any doubts.
If you're a fan of the aforementioned singers, you seriously need to check this one out. Highly, highly recommended.
(Recording quality is pretty good too, very natural and unforced.)
on December 3, 1999
I am overjoyed to finally find this CD, and thanks to Amazon for making it available. I first saw Stacey Kent's feature story on CBS This Morning earier this year, and was enraptured by her singing. I am a Diana Krall also fan and I feel Stacey can reach her level of popularty very easily. One this CD, she covers Cole Porter's "It's Delovely" which is the first time a singer has done such a great job to make me finally like this song. Another Cole Porter song "Dream Dancing" is covered and I really enjoy that version also. I don't know if CD's wear out like my old LP collection, but I'm going to have to get a couple copies of this to share with friends for Holiday gifts, and another copy for my commute. I hope she tours the US in 2000, I'll be excited to see her show when it comes to Los Angeles. RECOMMENDED CD !
on March 27, 2000
I purchased this CD on a 1998 trip to England, having been enthralled with Ms. Kent's voice since seeing her in "Richard III". This is a wonderful collection of songs by the likes of Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer, alternating between soulful numbers like "More Than You Know" and lighter pieces like "Its Delovely". Ms. Kent handles them all with consummate skill, and is backed by a sharp ensemble including her husband, Jim Tomlinson, on saxophone, and a fine guitarist, Colin Oxley. This is beautiful music.
on December 14, 1999
I've been trying to get this CD ever since I got "Tender Trap" last April. I also gave "Tender Trap" five stars and commented that it was already a classic. Stacey's singing is just as good in "tender Trap", which is the best, I just like the latter a little better because of more old standards in it. I never get tired of listening to her.