Grace Darling

Imaginary Lover

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New Orleans' answer to Candy Dulfer, Grace Darling (surely that's not her real name) is both a torch singer and a tenor saxophonist with decidedly middle of the road aspirations. She calls her mix of pop, light jazz, and soft rock "pop gumbo," and Allen Toussaint's typically excellent production does add a decidedly New Orleans flair to the otherwise fairly standard songs. Darling is a very good singer and a not-bad saxophone player -- she's better than Kenny G, which admittedly is not saying much -- but the material is consistently lightweight. Al Kooper's title track has some spunk and grit to it, but the rest of the album sounds like it's trying to be polite and inoffensive, as if Darling and crew made this album specifically to be played as background music in New Orleans-themed chain restaurants. Darling's pop gumbo definitely needs more spice.

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