An effective best-of CD isn't necessarily going to be the last word on an artist's contributions, but it should at least offer an appealing synopsis that makes one want to dig deeper. Best of Love Songs, which is Jackie Ryan's first best-of collection, accomplishes that; when this 67-minute CD is finished playing, the listener definitely wants to hear more from her. Best of Love Songs' greatest flaw is its lack of liner notes. Although Ryan has a lot going for her, she isn't a major name in the jazz world (at least as of early 2010), and that is precisely why a Ryan best-of should have had comprehensive, informative liner notes. Sometimes, the jazz releases that lack liner notes are the ones that need them the most. But the absence of liner notes doesn't make these previously released recordings any less enjoyable. Listening to "Serenade in Blue" from Passion Flower, "Make It Last" from This Heart of Mine, or "The Very Thought of You" from You and the Night and the Music, it is obvious that Ryan is a skillful, expressive torch singer who has learned a lot from influences like Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Billie Holiday, and Betty Carter (although Ryan isn't nearly as abstract as Carter). One of Ryan's major assets is her ability to express herself in languages other than English; Best of Love Songs underscores that point by giving listeners a chance to hear her performing in Spanish on Consuelo Velazquez's "Bésame Mucho" and Carlos Almaran's "Historia de un Amor," and in Portuguese on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Luiza." Best of Love Songs paints an attractive picture of Ryan, and it can be a pleasing, if imperfect, place to start exploring her work.
Best of Love Songs Review
by Alex Henderson