Music and movies have always formed a good marriage, because both evoke memories. Sometimes those recollections are joyous reminders of romantic relationships, or special occasions, while at other times, they may be sadder memories. Movies and music may also cause us to recall periods of our life, or phases that we were going through. Malaysian artist Jacíntha, appearing on the Groove Note label, recently teamed up with producers Joe Harley and Ying Tan, to release the CD Jacíntha Goes To Hollywood, featuring several memorable hit songs, from movies such as The Italian Job, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Alfie, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Chinatown.
The label has surrounded Jacíntha with an outstanding cast of musicians, who for the most part provide a gauzy backdrop for the singer’s gentle and elegant vocals. The mood for this fine album is set early when Howlett Smith whistles in the laid back "On Days Like These," originally sung by Matt Monro for the 1969 film The Italian Job. In addition to possessing outstanding vocals, Jacíntha has one of those voices that sounds pleasant, and endears the vocalist to you immediately. She’s not seductive or flirtatious, but she is definitely charming and romantic. The producers achieved a simple, vintage sound for this CD by recording it in analogue.
If you are going to cover a song, particularly a well know tune, you had better bring something different to the recording, or the listener might as well save his or her money, and purchase the CD or soundtrack by the original artist. Jacíntha, the producers, as well as the arrangers Anthony Wilson and Iskandar Ismail, bring new arrangements and elegance to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," a song we are used to hearing as a more up-tempo melody.
Throughout Jacíntha Goes To Hollywood, Ismail delivers some very graceful piano chops that enhance the music, and provide the perfect accompaniment for the singer. He is at his best in the song "Alfie," from the movie of the same name.
At first glance, it would appear that the CD is a little light on tracks with only nine songs; however, six of those tunes exceed five minutes in length, with one of them being over six minutes long. At 47:29, the album is about the length it should be without the artist giving away more songs than she should, and leaving the listener with fair value for their money. More importantly, there is not a wasted track on this CD, whereas there are plenty of recordings out there that may have twelve or fourteen tracks that we wish only had half as many.
It is always difficult to be objective about an artist who covers a song that is one of your favorites, as is the case with "California Dreaming," a song that I have always loved. Written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips, and performed by them as part of the sixties group The Mamas and The Papas, "California Dreaming," went all the way to # 4 on the US charts in 1965. While the original recording was a swinging pop hippie tune, Jacíntha serves up very mellow vocals, and Larry Goldings infuses the song with some very good Hammond B3 chords.
Of all the songs on this disc, "A Man And A Woman," probably most closely resembles the original. That being said, Jacintha’s vocal are perfectly suited for the song, and the songbird sparkles.
If you are looking for some romantic music for New Year’s Eve pick up a copy of Jacintha Goes To Hollywood, then turn the lights down low.