Love is… the Tender Trap

COMPOSERS: Duke Ellington,etc,James F Hanley,Mann/Hilliard
LABELS: Candid
ALBUM TITLE: Stacey Kent
PERFORMER: Stacey Kent (v), Jim Tomlinson (ts), Colin Oxley (g), David Newton (p), Dave Green (b), Jeff Hamilton (d)
CATALOGUE NO: CCD 79751 (distr. Direct)

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Since moving to the UK in 1993, in her mid-twenties, US-born singer Stacey Kent has swiftly established herself as one of the most accomplished and persuasive purveyors of standards since the songs’ golden age. Her crystal-clear diction and the sheer intelligence and sensitivity she brings to a lyric, not to mention the quiet strength and flexibility of her voice, form the basis of her success. What makes her genuine star material, however, is less tangible: the highly affecting timbre of her voice, which imbues all she sings with lasting and genuine emotion.

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In the programming of this all-standards album, the almost conversational intimacy of her ballads (Duke Ellington’s ‘I Didn’t Know About You’ and the Mann/Hilliard classic ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’) is judiciously balanced with a joyous sparkiness on up-tempo material (James F Hanley’s ‘Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart’) and an easy informality at medium tempo. Impeccably supported by a neat, discreet band, featuring the elegant tenor of Jim Tomlinson and the sparkling lyricism of pianist David Newton, Kent, rather than simply breathing new life into familiar material, injects such vitality and freshness into her interpretations that the songs sound newly minted. Chris Parker