Released last year in Europe and long overdue for release in the States, Stacey Kent’s tribute to the Richard Rodgers songbook, In Love Again
, proves well worth the wait. Kent’s voice, alternately fragile as fine china and steady as a summer breeze, is in fine form here. It simply sounds as though she and her band were having the time of their lives recording these songs. From a thematic standpoint, In Love Again
is the polar opposite of Kent’s Dreamsville
, where melancholy and loneliness were the primary themes.
Kent peppers the lyrics to "I Wish I Were In Love Again" with a fair amount of sass, brings to the fore the tender longing of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", and interprets "Nobody’s Heart (Belongs To Me)" as a paean to aching optimism. In the hands of another vocalist these songs would seem bitter. Kent infuses them with a "glass-half-full" outlook that is simply intoxicating, especially with her voice.
Kent’s band is in fine form on In Love Again
. A particular note: the sublime interplay between reedist Jim Tomlinson, guitarist Colin Oxley, and pianist David Newton is seemingly symbiotic, unlike on previous Kent albums where Tomlinson tended to dominate the music. Tomlinson foreshadows the heartbreak of "It Never Entered My Mind" with an airy saxophone solo that brings to mind similarities to Miles Davis' fragile version, matched impeccably by Kent’s interpretive skills. Oxley adds a tasty solo to "Nobody’s Heart" over Newton’s sparse accompaniment, and Newton turns "Shall We Dance" into a swinging number. Overall, In Love Again
is a pleasing affair, Stacey Kent’s best recording to date.