Vickie Vocals (Music Thoughts: Under The Influence, Vickie Van Dyke)

61Bwvzt4zQL._SS500_I was listening to ‘Under The Influence’ by Vickie Van Dyke, and there was a certain something I noticed in her singing – there seemed to be a lot of passion here, and I could feel instantly her love of the material.

Then I read the ‘back story’ of the album. Apparently, she recorded this as a tribute to her mother. who had recently gone to hospice. She was struck by the kindness of the people she encountered there and pledged all the sales of the album to go to the facility, Hospice Wellington, in Ontario Canada. She also recorded this a tribute to her mother, who introduced her to the Great American Songbook. After learning this, I loved the album even more. Her love for the music fills every second of the album. While she doesn’t posses the most technically proficient, but I like it’s smoky and husky quality. And there is certainly care in her lyric interpretation. My favorite track is ‘Let’s Make The Most Of A Beautiful Thing,’ which I know from Nancy Wilson. her slightly quivering interpretation gives it a lot of gravitas. I don’t know why I have been so enamoured by that song of late, perhaps from where my life is right now? But truly, the rest of the album is a good listen.

Starting from Barbra’s Start (Music Thoughts: Starting Here Starting Now, Cornelia Luna)

cornelia-luna-starting-here-starting-now-cd-cover-tmr-december-2018What a way to start the New Year but with an album titled ‘Starting Here Starting Now.’ It is by Cornelia Luna, who I remember being one of the Kims in the Original Broadway Cast of Miss Saigon. Initially, I thought that the album would be Broadway songs but I read up and saw that the inspiration of the album is Barbra Streisand. These are songs that are associated with Barbra, and she culls from the earlier albums, when Streisand was singing arrangements by Peter Matz.  Backed by the Bill King Trio, Luna sings with jazzy inflections. I don’t dislike her interpretations, but I probably have to get used to these arrangements of her songs. I don’t know if her stylings, for example, work on a song like ‘Will Someone Ever Look At me That Way?’ a song so personal that this version seems cold and impersonal. But on ‘Gotta Move,’ you can tell that Luna knows how to interpret and sing songs her way. And on the title track, there’s a high reached there that tells the full story of the lyric. It is interesting to me that she chose to sing songs from Barbra’s last duet album, ‘Any Moment Now,’ and ‘Loving You,’ (the former she duets with Gavin Hope) because stylistically they are very different from Barbra’s early material and they really don’t gel well together, but that is forgiven by her tender ‘I Had Myself A True Love,’ my favorite track from the album.

A Yearwood of Frank (Music Thoughts: Let’s Be Frank, Trisha Yearwood)

img35cTrisha Yearwood has released a new album, but here’s the twist. For now, it is only available at Williams Sonoma, and due for a February wide release.  It’s a collection of standards, specifically a tribute to Frank Sinatra. And of course something like this would be right up my alley.

As far as singer-does-standards go, this one is pretty sweet. Her voice is nice and full, and you can tell that she loves these songs – she knows them and you don’t get a sense that she just learned them that day at the recording studio. She is careful with the lyrics, treating them with proper care. And even though I know this is a Sinatra tribute, she includes songs that are not the most obvious choices – songs like Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘If I Loved You ‘ (my favorite track here) and ‘Over The Rainbow’ get included. And when she dips into his cannon, she makes sure she offers something new and different. On ‘Witchcraft,’ for example, she sings the rarely-heard verse. For me, the album skews on the more conservative side, but that is just me. I think I would have liked this more had she done this country style = can you imagine a honky tonk bar version of ‘One For My Baby?’  But overall, this is a great record, and one that might be worth a trip to Williams Sonoma for.

What’s To Love (Music Thoughts: love, Michael Buble)

611713_1It’s Christmas Eve and I bet you a lot of stockings have Michael Buble’s new album ‘Love’ int hem/ Do people still do that, though? Buy physical music? Buble is a crowd-pleaser, for sure, and his new disc is  a safe gift – you just know whoever you give it to will love it.

i didn’t much like this album, and tat even surprised me because I have loved his records for the most part. I thought this lacked something – energy. Ir felt perfunctory. I felt he was uninspired and to my ears, it showed. And I can’t figure out why – David Foster is producing, and one of my favorite pianists Alan Broadbent is on the helm as well. Why else would they do  ‘suspenseful’ arrangement of ‘My Funny Valentine,’ one of the most romantic songs ever written? And he couldn’t even make ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ syrupy sweet. I like Charlie Puth and his song here ”Love You Anymore’ fell flat (I had to listen to it a couple of times to be sure) There is a bright spot in ‘La Vie En Rose,’ but maybe because he duets it with Cecile McLorin Salvant, and she is fantastic. I know Buble has gone through a lot the past couple of months, so I will give him a pass.

In Martel’s Holiday (Music Thoughts: Christmastime Is Here, Marc Martel)

51-nq6UeJyL._SS500I have no idea who Marc Martel is, but Spotify ‘recommended’ his Christmas EP to me, so I listened.  And it was okay – very live and bright. I found out that Martel provided some of the Freddie Mercury vocals in the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’  I had the impression that Rami Malik did those vocals, but apparently they also used Martel’s voice and they made everything sound seamless.  I am by no means a Mercury expert but apparently Martel has a voice that is very similar. And then I found out that Martel is a Christian, and writes and sings religious music. But I guess if he consented to singing Freddie Mercury songs, then he probably isn’t the very preachy kind.

The EP is okay, and as I said, it has a lot of rhythm and the songs and arrangements are nice enough to make an impression on me. And it;s not as overtly religious as I thought – he even covers Mariah’s ‘All I Want For Christmas.’  It’s all nice and good very alive, and could be good pick=up music for the Holidays. You can listen to it in the car on the way to seeing relatives you don;t want to see.

Feliz David-ad (Music Thoughts: Baby It’s Christmas, David Campbell)

220px-Baby_It's_Christmas_by_David_CampbellI remember David Campbell from his New York City Cabaret days, and I remember he was one of the first people to sing the wonderful song ‘Grateful,’ composed by John Buccino. But then he kind of disappeared and I know he has enjoyed more success in his native Australia, and if I am not mistaken, he is now some kind of television presenter there.  And now he has released a new Holiday album, ‘Baby It’s Christmas,’ and it’s a nice pleasant album. I wish I could describe it better, but really, that’s all it is. It has a nice solid Holiday repertoire – your ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ mixed in with a ‘Jingle Bells.’ The arrangements will please everyone, and I like that he covers Harry Connick Jr’s ‘When My Heart Finds Christmas.’ Australian Rick Price has an original for him, the title track, and yes, it’s all really easy to listen to. But it’s also kind of generic, and does not take any risk at all. It would be a hit for department stores. I guess when you hear these songs over and over, you kind of look for a little edge. There’s none here.