Friday, 6 March 2015

Rebecca Ferguson - Lady Sings the Blues, album review

Tone and Texture

Rebecca Ferguson garners, I think, about equal measures of praise and dismissal: those who simply recognise the genuinely distinctive tone and texture of her vocal, and those who simply see her as a talent-show contest winner without merit. If the former, like me, you'll see this tribute to Billy Holiday as well as other big band songs a worthy test and opportunity to develop as a performer; if the latter, a purely commercial proposition.

I liked Ferguson's first release, reviewed here, and still rate Shoulder to Shoulder, whilst I found the second more a filler than progress. This album seems a welcome return to form, accepting how such well known songs will limit in some cases because of our expectations, and also that they are clear standards [though this does come with a musical kitemark] and we are perhaps always looking for something new and dynamic in contemporary singers.

In short, I like this too, with opener Get Happy full of jazz vigour and Ferguson putting that great tone to shimmering effect, especially on the 'hallelujahs'.  The same with Fine and Mellow. There is in Summertime, more of this tone being fully worked, and the texture which has a slight harshness at times is also pushed to some resonating emotion. Songs like Embraceable You and Blue Moon are done well enough, but too lounge/twee for me so any reservations have little to do with Ferguson as a singer. In God Bless the Child we return to some quality emotion in the interpretation, including the jazzy production. I think Don't Explain is imbued with a fine vocal performance, despite the too-twinkling production. I imagine her singing solo with piano in the right nighttime environment would be the perfect context for performing.

No comments:

Post a Comment