Stacey Kent – Close Your Eyes – Pure Pleasure Records

by | Aug 15, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Stacey Kent – Close Your Eyes – Pure Pleasure Records 180 Gram Vinyl Double LP PPAN CJS 9737  Release August 2019 ( Original Release 1997 Candid CCD 79737 ) 53:21****

( Stacey Kent – vocals; David Newton – piano; Andrew Cleyndert – bass; Steve Brown – drums; Jim Tomlinson – tenor sax; Colin Oxley – guitar)

Jazz singing is a broad field and consequently jazz singers cannot easily be defined. There is general agreement however on the source material for this endeavour and that is the Great American Songbook. Stacey Kent falls into the jazz singer category, and certainly her choice of material is American songbook relevant. Her interpretation of that material is captured with wonderful re-engineered clarity and polish in the Pure Pleasure Records vinyl re-release Close Your Eyes.

Although Stacey Kent is American born, she now resides in the UK and has done so since she began her studies in the early 1990s at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Her first gigs were at Cafe Boheme on Old Compton Street in London’s Soho district. From this rather inauspicious beginning, she landed her first album in 1997, the aforementioned Close Your Eyes which became the best selling British Jazz Album of the Year.

The eleven compositions chosen for this session are distributed over two 12” LPs and are faultlessly tailored examples of Kent’s intimate voice. The first two tracks of Side A are a study in contracts, starting with  “More Than You Know” a lovely ballad written by Vincent Youmans/BillyRose/Edward Eliscu and Cole Porter’s bouncy “Dream Dancing”.  Each has a  changeable level of emotional power with the former describing some of love’s challenges, and the latter scampers along generating a tender defined feeling.

Throughout this session it becomes quite apparent that Stacey Kent is a consummate story-telling songstress. So whether it’s the ballad “There’s A Lull In My Life”by Mack Gordon & Harry Revel, or the nuanced “ You Go To My Head” by J. Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie, Kent’s effortlessly pleasurable vocals convey both vulnerability and compassion.

The closing track “Day In, Day Out “ written Rube Bloom and Johnny Mercer in 1939 is a perfect capstone to this release. Covered by a multitude of jazz and popular singers, it  has a gorgeous and upward melodic line  on which Kent and the band demonstrate their irresistible swinging cohesion.

The release of Close Your Eyes in 1997 launched Stacey Kent’s recording career and highlighted her soft vocal style but which was filled with emotional intensity. Congratulations to Pure Pleasure Records and Ray Staff at Air Mastering, Lyndhurst Hall, London for bringing this gem back into circulation.

Stacey Kent has a soft vocal style filled with emotional intensity

Side A:
More Than You Know
Dream Dancing
There’s No You

Side B:
There’s A Lull In My Life
It’s De-Lovely
Close Your Eyes

Side C:
I’m Old Fashioned
You Go To My Head
Little White Lies

Side D:
Sleep Warm
Day In, Day Out

—Pierre Giroux


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