Vocalist Stevie Holland is gifted with a rich, expressive alto, clear diction, and an ability to bring out something fresh in familiar songs. Buoyed by a strong rhythm section consisting of pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist Edward Perez, and drummer Willie Jones III, Holland catches the nuances of the sensual "Carioca" without falling into a tired routine as do many lounge singers, often backed solely by Perez. She restores the oft-omitted verse to Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When," then savors its romantic lyrics in an updated treatment of this decades-old standard. Tenor saxophonist Ole Mathisen is added for her lush, deliberate treatment of "Lazy Afternoon," though Holland's powerful duet with Bejerano of "How Deep Is the Ocean" is easily the high point of her CD. Guitarist Paul Bollenback joins the rhythm section for her swinging interpretation of Ferde Grofé's "Daybreak" (with the guitarist opening his solo with a bit of Grofé's well-known "On the Trail"). She also collaborates with composer Gary William Friedman on two strong originals. Her midtempo bossa nova "The Music in Me That Plays" is an upbeat affair, with Bollenback playing acoustic guitar. Mathiesen returns for Holland's melancholy ballad "Before Love Has Gone," with the singer delivering her longing lyrics in a heartfelt manner. Carly Simon's "Riverboat Gambler" seems an unlikely choice for a jazz vocalist, but Holland takes on the challenge and makes it work. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden