Ann Austin is recording her first CD at the encouragement of well-known New England pianist John Harrison III, and the result is the introduction of a vocalist with a style of her own.... one who defies pigeonholing as she goes for the heart of each song rather than worrying about dividing lines of musical categories. For Austin’s voice is such that she invests each song with such a sense of of knowing and wisdom, comparable to the way that the earthiest of blues singers do it. It becomes apparent that she chose the songs of Lost In Your Eyes
from the importance they hold for her. In addition to the covers on the CD, Austin wrote four of the songs as well, and they are instructive for the thematic guideposts that she sets up: themes of unrequited love, romance, the fragility of the human spirit, the futility of pretense and loss. In the process, Austin blurs boundaries as she places primary importance on the conveyance of emotions. At times, she sounds as direct as a soul singer on "Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You, Baby)," as heart-wrenching as a blues singer on "Black Coffee," as existential as Mark Murphy on "Ballad Of The Sad Young Men," or as universal in intent as the best of the pop song writers on Stevie Wonder’s "Lately." And let us now give recognition to Harrison’s arrangements that let Austin explore the meaning of each of the songs while he provides their harmonic basis and sets up their atmosphere.
Austin’s voice is the most unforgettable component of Lost In Your Eyes,
a burnished alto of contained force that saves its volume for the infrequent crescendos or high points of musical drama within the lyrics. As effective as her voice may be, its most obvious strength is its versatility, with its ability to make each song memorable and not a repetition of someone else’s interpretation.
Her own lyrics fit right into the pattern of heartfelt lyrics, honest in their communication of hurt or longing: "Tell me what’s in your heart/So this romance can have a proper start/Or must I forever be lost in your eyes?" Or "Tell me not to love you anymore./Tell me just to walk right out that door./Tell me that you hold no love for me./Tell me that you’re happy to be free./I can’t let you go from my heart./I can’t let you go from my mind./You’re still tearing my world apart/’Cause I still think of you as mine." The same undercurrent of hurt and sadness continues on Sting’s song, which receives an expressive introduction from Harrison: "On and on the rain will fall/Like tears from a star/Like tears from a star./On and on the rain will say/ How fragile we are."
But Austin ends Lost In Your Eyes
on an upbeat note, her own "Cha Cha Blues," sounding somewhat like "Hey Big Spender" with its air of defiance and coquetry. By the time the last track is sung, it’s evident that Ann Austin is a singer with a lot to say, and we wonder where she’s been all these years.