Title: The Boy Next Door
Leader Artist:Stacey Kent
Styles: Contemporary Jazz Vocals
Audio CD (August 26, 2003)
Original Release Date: August 26, 2003
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Candid Records
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1. The Best Is Yet To Come
2. The Boy Next Door
3. The Trolley Song
4. Say It Isn't So
5. Too Darn Hot
6. Makin' Whoopee
7. What The World Needs Now Is Love
8. You've Got A Friend
9. I Got It Bad
11. People Will Say We're In Love
12. 'Tis Autumn
13. All I Do Is Dream Of You
14. I Get Along Without You Very Well
15. You're The Top
Stacey Kent (vocals);
Jim Tomlinson (saxophone, background vocals);
David Newton (piano, keyboards, background vocals);
Colin Oxley (guitar);
Dave Chamberlain (bass);
Matt Mome (drums);
Curtis Schwartz (background vocals).
"The Boy Next Door," by American-born British songster Stacey Kent, is a collection of songs associated with singers she admires, from Tony Bennett to Frank Sinatra. She's into jazz and pop, even a little light rock, and jazzy pop; her light,clear voice makes light work of them all, too, though, oddly enough, every single inspiration Kent cites in this album is male. Never mind, she opens on a jazzy take of Tony Bennett's version of Coleman and Leigh's "The Best Is Yet To Come," and flirts with Ray Charles' rocking "Makin' Whoopee." Does a lovely version of James Taylor's homespun "You've Gotmore… a Friend," by Carole King. Detours to Broadway with "People Will Say We're In Love," by Rogers and Hammerstein, as done by the big voice of Gordon MacRae. Borrows Cole Porter's "You're The Top" from the illustrious cabaret artist Bobby Short. However, Louis Armstrong's "I Got It Bad," as recorded by Duke Ellington, may have been a mistake for her. Seems to me that song's been recorded by some of the biggest, baddest girls in jazz, and Kent may be a trifle light of voice, and light in the life experience department, to be trying to compete with them. But, all in all, you could almost say that in this album, at least, she makes a virtue of not writing her own material.
The album, as arranged and produced by her English husband Jim Tomlinson, who also plays saxophone and backs her on vocals, is a charmer. It achieved Gold Album status in France in September, 2006, shortly after its release. Kent's voice, and that of Tomlinson's sax, bill and coo like honeymooners. I've been lucky enough to catch them in person a couple of times, at New York's famous Algonquin Hotel, and what charming evenings they were.
This CD cements my total and committed adoration for Stacey Kent. The girl can' t go wrong. She can sing the side effects of a calcium channel blocker cardiac medication and I can bet she can still make you swoon. By now you probably have a couple of her CD's and that you know she is famous for updating classical music with romantic swing and precision, but do you know she can also sing comtemporary ones. Pay attention to an old James Taylor standard "You've Got A Friend" and how she sings the song like it was written for her. The acompaniment of Colin Oxley's guitar is so quite and sparse that it almost seems like Stacey is softly reading the lyrics. "You've Got a Friend" is difinetely the highlight of this Album. And it is amazing how she can turn a smaltzy song like Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now," into something pleadingly true. Overall all 16 tracks are great to listen to. It turns you pensive and makes you notice her lovely voice.
I felt compelled to respond to the misguided review of this album by my fellow Australian Steven Guy (perhaps he has spent too much time at Midnight Oil concerts to appreciate subtle jazz vocals). This album is superb; Kent's phrasing, interpretation, and perfect enunciation combine to make this a truly unique listening experience. Kent, perhaps for the first time, has surpassed Diana Krall on this album. Her voice may not be as intrinsically powerful, but the emotional intercouse that her nuanced interpretations allow make this album far superior to Krall's recent insipid performances. Comparisons with the pop singer Norah Jones are not meaningful; Kent is by far the superior jazz performer. Although the album is full of familar classics, they sound delightfully new because of Kent's personal rendering of the lyrics and emotions; only "You've Got Friend" and "Bookends" sound like covers. Stacey Kent has not been treated as kindly by American jazz citics as she has deserved, perhaps because of a xenophobic desire to ensure that the "balance of power" remains here via singers such as Diana Krall and Madeleine Peyroux (despite the fact that Kent was born and raised in New York, even though she is now based in the UK). I saw her live in Westport, CT last week and she was superb. Buy the album and you be the judge!