Three albums into her belated solo career, Rebecca Ferguson has decided to gamble all her hard won credibility in this heartfelt love letter to Billie Holliday and the Great American Songbook. In taking off to document Lady Sings the Blues, a double albums really worth of Tin Pan Alley standards that includes such venerable songs as “Embraceable You”, “That Ole Devil Called Love”, “Don’t Explain” and “All Of Me”, there can be no doubt that Ferguson has intentionally set herself a mountain to climb. After all, it was none other than Frank Sinatra himself who credited the mythical Lady Day with being “his single finest musical have an impact on”. The fact that she so easily scales those dizzying heights on Lady Sings the Blues, can not help however take the listeners’ breath away!
The album, recorded in LA’s Capitol Studios 강남풀싸롱, kicks off with contemporary unmarried, “Get Happy”, a skittish take at the debut composition of the Cotton Club’s then in-house tune-writing duo, Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen, but without a doubt hits its stride with a sassy, finger-snapping model of Holiday’s “Fine and Mellow” and a silky reading of the Gershwin brothers’ “Embraceable You”. The astounding nice is maintained with an imaginitive re-operating of Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer’s jazz standard “I Thought approximately You” a wistful re-telling of “Willow Weep for Me” and a definitely breezy model of Koehler and Arlen’s biggest hit, “Stormy Weather”. Knock out performances just hold right on coming, Ferguson is vexed and bemused at the flawlessly pitched “What is this factor referred to as Love”, then downbeat and doleful on the fatalistic “Lover Man”.
A big quantity of credit for this sumptuous album ought to go to producer/arranger/conductor and percussionist, Troy Miller. Miller’s CV takes some beating – he’s worked with Adele, Amy Winehouse and Donna Summer amongst others, and is currently earning a crust as Laura Mvula’s musical director. His decorous preparations are vividly introduced to lifestyles by means of an ace combo of veteran sidemen, proposing the modern director of the Count Basie Orchestra, Scotty Barnhart on Trumpet, Chuck Berghofer on bass, Ricky Woodward on Tenor Saxophone and Barbra Streisand’s long time accompanist Tamir Hendelman on the Piano.
Miller’s pertinent preparations permit Ferguson the space to unveil each songs lower back tale, adding just a splash of piano and Bob Shepherd’s flute to the honeyed hush of her vocal at the heartrending “Don’t Explain”, or introducing a restricted, dexterous trumpet, to gently tease out the melancholic hue of George Gershwin’s “Summertime”. However, the album’s standout music would possibly just be the Marks and Simons toe-tapper, “All of Me”. This music’s entire-hearted lyric frequently outcomes in an overwrought vocal, making Ferguson’s uniquely understated delivery, right here, all the more super. The tune, it need to be stated, loses no longer an oz of its passion or commitment in Miller’s greater salubrious putting.
Perhaps, though, the biggest wonder of Lady Sings the Blues is Ferguson’s without a doubt immaculate phrasing. Her huskily mellifluous voice has long been known, however these three-minute masterpieces demand a exceptional deal greater from a singer. This time-honoured collection of songs, immortalised by the remarkable crooners and jazz singers of the 40’s and fifties, constitutes a genuine American artwork shape. Each of the greats has rubber-stamped these songs with their personal particular pizzazz, (Brooklyn born vocalist Julius LaRosa reasons that Sinatra, via virtue of his intuitive phrasing, become in a position to turn a thirty-two bar song into a three-act play).
What a joy, then, to pay attention a young British singer reduce a file of such breathtaking accomplishment, to take these canonical songs in her stride, to sing them with such an intimate information and understanding, as though each were written for her or about her. A feat that turns into all the extra amazing, whilst Ferguson conveniently admits to having been unexpected with a number of these songs before recording the initial demos! Whether it is on jaunty, effervescent numbers, like Rodgers and Hart’s hardy perennial, “Blue Moon”, or proper at the alternative give up of the emotional scale on Ruth Lowe’s desolate ballad, “I’ll Never Smile Again”, she’s proper on the cash, her pin-point phrasing and imaginitive method fleshing out the actual that means of each lyric.