Helen Abbey’s CD Simply Me provides the listener with the sounds of a gifted singer who is able to deliver a variety of songs with a delightfully sensuous, soft and sultry voice. The U.K. based Abbey demonstrates her various talents on a collection of 13 songs including new and original arrangements of standards from the pop, jazz and rock world, and new songs composed by guest sideman, harmonica player Luigi Ferrara. Abbey contributes lyrics to Ferrara’s songs and also adapts lyrics to Jay Beckenstein’s instrumental hit "Morning Dance."
"Morning Dance" is perfect as an upbeat opener to the recording. A rollicking introduction by drummer Mark Cecil establishes a great groove for the guitar of Tony Sandeman and bass of Andy Staples. Abbey’s lyrics easily adhere to the tune’s melody and reflect inspiration of the song’s title. Luigi Ferrara’s "Another Day" with lyrics by Abbey is a sweet, somewhat sentimental ballad that also features Ferrara’s Toots Theilemans inspired harmonica and the guitar of Tony Sandeman. Ferrara also pays tribute to the great jazz harmonica player with his plaintive yet brief "Song for Theilemans." Abbey’s performances demonstrate that she is familiar and comfortable with many of the standards of the jazz vocal repertoire. She easily navigates through Antonio Carlos Jobim’s "Wave" and "One Note Samba" with the lightly driving romance that has been associated with these songs. Her heart wrenching rendition of "Cry Me A River" and sexually charged version of "Fever" would please any fan of Peggy Lee. Abbey’s light scat singing on "Devil May Care" shows off her capabilities as a vocal improviser and her version of "Moondance" offers further evidence that Van Morrison’s popular song should be included in the realm of jazz vocal standards. Her down tempo version of "Fly Me To The Moon" is a compelling variation on presentation of this song and her lilting "Lullaby of Birdland" and whimsical "tribute" to Annie Ross with "Twisted" certainly qualify Abbey as a competent and capable jazz vocalist.
Simply Me, simply put is a delightful recording. The sound is excellent, the musicianship superb and Helen Abbey certainly has the voice of wonderful jazz singer. For lovers of jazz singing, Simply Me would be a worthwhile addition to a jazz CD collection.