John Depalma

The Song Is Mine

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West side New York City watering hole Don't Tell Mama was the venue for this live performance by cabaret singer John DePalma, his first for LML, the label that is home to many outstanding practitioners of that entertainment genre. The first few bars of the first song immediately remind one of Johnny Mathis, not just in terms of his vocal timbre but the romantic feel he gives a song. Finally, like Mathis or any good singer for that matter, he has excellent pace, phrasing, and diction, giving a special touch to the lyrics he sings. On some tunes such as "I'm Checkin' Out," he's a Mathis with an attitude. The play list is a good one. There's "The Arlen Medley," which includes up-tempo versions of "Night and Day," "I Got the World on a String," and "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea." In contrast, "One More Hour"/"When She Loved Me" and "Be a Lion" offer DePalma an opportunity to display his strong emotional attachment to the words he's vocalizing. But he can be fancy-free as well, as he shows on his own composition "The Song Is Mine." In addition to "The Arlen Medley," DePalma makes frequent use of that device, such as combining the songs of Harry Nilsson and Tom Waits on the same track. One of the album's more pleasant moments comes as DePalma sashays through a lilting account of "Dream a Little Dream of Me," featuring high-stepping bass from Andy Eulau. The trio of James Followell, who also did the fresh arrangements, Eulau, and Tom Partington turns out to be just the right level of instrumental support for DePalma. The Song Is Mine is one of the better cabaret albums to be released in 2002.

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