Top positive review
Stacey Kent - she's baaaack !
on October 16, 2003
Ok, Stacey Kent fans, let's all fess up. I don't think she's really put a bad CD, or even a "good but not great" CD yet. But the last two, while good, often quite good, just didn't *quite* get the airplay on my player as maybe some of the earlier ones. Oh, "Dreamsville" had a few killer songs, but sometimes I felt there were a bunch that just didn't hit me. Her last attempt was pretty solid, but I don't always gravitate towards it when I reached for something to listen too...maybe because it was all from one composer (Richard Rodgers), who knows. It didn't help that around the same time Diana Krall did her live CD which I love either... that seemed to get more attention in my stack than Stacey's did, which isn't always the case.
I think, however, that "The Boy Next Door" is a landmark of sorts. She just seems, for lack of a better word, "arrived and confident". Her voice is in top, top form, with gorgeous phrasing, wonderful clarity, great feel, and finally, ever improving each time he took her to tape, Curtis Schwartz has recorded it dead on... the recording quality of this disk moves up into the upper echelon; the whole band and her voice integrate wonderfully. Way to go!
But I don't expect most of you pay much attention to that sort, so it's back to the music. I think she's hit on a really good collection of songs here, and while they aren't going to appeal to the lyric-content-meaning freaks who have to analyze what a song says, let's be honest, Stacey Kent is about the ephemeral delivery of the meaning and soul of the song, not about the literal content of the lyrics, and that's where nobody right now that I can think of (that sings) has her beat. She *nails* getting that so-hard-to-do "feel" right, and it's a large reason I have most everything she's done in my collection and keep going back to her.
Nitpicks? - One review mentioned the band doesn't get as much solo time as in others, and that is true. I would love a touch more of Dave Newton's wonderful Piano, but man, I'm nitpicking. The rest of the band is also in top form, complementing each piece wonderfully, with stellar playing more focused on quality and not, this time, on soloing. Newton digs down on organ on "Makin' Whoopee" which is a nice change-up from his stellar acoustic piano work, I'll also note.
Faves? There's probably 8 or 9 songs on here I really, really like, which is pretty good for me. But I gotta say.... her rendition of James Taylor's "You've got a friend" left me slack jawed. A great reading of a classic tune and played on something nice in terms of a playback system, it forces you to immediately stop what you're doing, forget whatever crap and tension you had in your day and spend a few minutes listening. Which, at the end of the proverbial day, this sort of music is all about.
Highly, Highly recommended.