Los Angeles cabaret performer Stacy Sullivan's debut album features a variety of both familiar and unfamiliar material, all dealing with life's vagaries, especially the ups and downs of romance. Sullivan has a lovely voice -- pure and smokey. She is also quite adept in the use of dynamics, as her vocal delivery fits the emotion being expressed in the lyrics. Having worked in musical theatre, Sullivan possesses a strong voice that can be heard in the last row of the balcony. However, she uses it with discretion, singing with passion, but rarely with gusto. Even on a tune like "Someone to Watch Over Me," where a little exuberance is justified, Sullivan holds back. She lets loose on sister Heather Sullivan's joyous "Carpet Ride," with background supplied by the energetic bowing of Stephanie Fife's cello. But it's the folksy-done ballad material -- such as "Ship in a Bottle," "Once Upon a Time," and the Irving Berlin medley "Always"/"Remember" -- which brings out that sweet, sincere quality of Sullivan's vocal style. John Boswell, who appears on most of the LML label's cabaret releases, is here with his piano and arrangements. Veteran harpist Corky Hale puts in an appearance, adding to the album's class. At the Beginning is tasteful cabaret delivered by one of the better practitioners of the style. Watch out for the last track -- it's not over when one thinks it is. After a couple of seconds, Sullivan is joined by her young daughter for a giggling coda. Perhaps for her next album, listeners can hear more of the power in her voice waiting to be let loose.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan