“Based upon the diversity of music, quality of product and their extraordinary rate of progress, Pure Pleasure Records is our re-issue record company of the year.”
Vocalist Stacy Kent is an exceptional ballad interpreter, and she puts a unique sound and delivery to this collection of covers. She makes each song her own, and is backed here by a tight-knit group of professionals, including her husband, Jim Tomlinson, who contributes clarinet and tenor sax. Dreamsville hit the Swedish Pop Charts in 1999 and won the Gold Award in Japan’s Swing Journal that same year.
Thanks to all the celebrity endorsements – everyone from Bill Gates to Clint Eastwood is praising her to the skies – New York-raised, UK-resident singer Stacey Kent now seems set for stardom.
Her previous three releases, courtesy of high-profile exposure on American TV, simultaneously occupied Top Ten positions in the Amazon CD chart in 2000, her date book is full, her fame is spreading way beyond the jazz world.
The reasons for such extraordinary popularity are not hard to identify: Kent has an immediately appealing voice, intimate yet almost conversational in its total lack of affectation, and an infectious belief in the power of a good, well-made song to communicate its emotional message to an audience. And listeners respond to such transparent honesty and integrity: this album’s repertoire was chosen, in the main, by them, consisting as it does of most-requested ballads from Kent’s stage performance, plus a couple of personal favourites. Highlights include two swooningly lovely Gershwin interpretations – “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and “Isn’t It a Pity”, the considerable subtleties of each lyric unfussily highlighted with all the intelligence of a comparative literature graduate – a perfectly judged “Violets for My Furs” that can stand proudly alongside the classic versions by Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, and a moving closing duo with the luminously delicate pianist David Newton, “Thanks for the Memory”.
Throughout this cleverly programmed recording, though, the Kent hallmarks shine through: the faultless diction, the highly affecting timbre infusing the songs with just the right degree of emotion, the effortless rapport with Getzian saxophonist Jim Tomlinson and the rest of a wonderfully discreet, light-swinging band. Dreamsville is a superb addition to an already highly distinguished series of albums by one of the finest intepreters of a song since Ella Fitzgerald.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE – January 2000
2. When Your Lover Has Gone
3. Isn’t It A Pity?
4. You Are There
5. Under A Blanket Of Blue
2. Hushabye Mountain
3. Little Girl Blue
4. You’re Looking At Me
5. Violets For Your Furs
6. Thanks For The Memory