Country music shows pride in the angelic choir-like resonance of Alison Krauss, but jazz acquired the dulcet airwaves of Stevie Holland whose fourth CD, Before Love Has Gone, showcases a resemblance to the Broadway production of South Pacific and the whispery vocal glides and light shimmers of Shirley Bassey in Holland’s singing. Holland’s album is a montage of rarely recorded classics and standards with slips here and there of original tunes penned by herself and her collaborator, award winning composer Gary William Friedman. Produced by Friedman, Todd Barkan and Tim Peierls, Before Love Has Gone is a memoir of yesteryear with pages containing classic jazz motifs engulfed in smooth jazz protocol and a torch-lit ambience. It is a long forgotten era, but always pleasurable to visit.
A few women like Stevie Holland have tackled the club jazz aura of torchlight music including Dena DeRose, Sheila Cooper and Rosie Carlino, to cite a few. The flowy lines of Holland’s music have the touch of a gentle caress and her delivery projects a lofty elegance relatable to soul singers like Carly Simon and Billy Holiday in songs like "Lazy Afternoon" and "Where Or When." The Spanish flare of "The Music In Me That Plays," the Cuban zest of "Carioca," and the zippy swing jazz rhythmic bumps of "Daybreak" slightly bridge off from the beaten path by infusing the album with numbers that incite people to move onto the dancefloor, as opposed to sitting mesmerized listening to the captivating narrations of Holland like in the misty oration of "Make Our Garden Grow."
The piano opus for "How Deep Is The Ocean" creates a lovely entranceway for Holland’s voice to come through its silky veil. Holland and her crew use several effects like this one to stir audiences emotions as Holland’s vocal rays soar while keeping a melodic range and dips into lower registers on the downcasts. Her glistening intonations on "Riverboat Gambler" make a vivid impression, and the punctuations in her musings through "Here’s To Your Illusions" are stretched out to gorgeous lengths while radiating a woman’s love for a man who cut her to the bone. Every woman who has needed to sing the blues over a cad wishes she could handle it with the class and elegance of Stevie Holland.
Before Love Has Gone is a keepsake chest that you can turn to when reminiscing over love’s bliss like in "Make Our Garden Grow," originally written by Richard Wilbur and Leonard Bernstein, or love’s thorny side like in "Here’s To Your Illusions," a song penned by Sammy Fain and E.Y. Harburg. Holland and Friedman’s collaborations can be heard on "The Music In Me That Plays" and the title track, "Before Love Has Gone." Holland handles her melodic phrasing with maturity, total command and aplomb, and the emotional vulnerability of a woman who is completely honest with herself and comfortable in her skin. Before Love Has Gone is the follow up to Holland’s 2006 release, More Than Words Can Say proving that just when people thought that she could not do any better than her last album, she breaks her own record and reaches a new high. Stevie Holland shares this quality with country singer Alison Krauss, and it’s quite nice to see women challenging themselves instead of each other.