After a five-year break, Sylvie Lewis follows up the impressive Translations with 2012's elegant, folk-pop-leaning It's All True. While fans will undoubtedly welcome another strong collection of delicate, voice-centric, timeless tunes from the intercontinental chanteuse, they’ll notice it's not as consistently early-20th-century-reaching as her previous, cabaret-steeped releases. From a songwriting standpoint, most of the songs could be from any decade of the rock era. "The Song I Sang Before I Met You," with its wistful, Carole King-like melody, has vocals, guitar, and drums brushed with a soft reverb that makes the full Phil Spector treatment easy to imagine. Produced again by Richard Swift (the Shins), the sound, while lovingly retro, falls at once squarely into contemporary indie pop. "Ballad of Honeymouth" may be the most other-timely track, with backing vocals, strings, and triplet rhythms that, in combination with her delivery, straddle vocal pop, doo wop, and girl groups. Another throwback track, though more timelessly arranged, is the piano-accompanied "The Fish and the Bird," which could easily be mistaken for an Irving Berlin tune. It's the kind of song that demands a kiss at the end if the listener is receptive to its seductive sweetness ("I was dreaming when I met you/Now I am awake/Dancing on the water"). The album also holds some notable collaborations. The opening track, "Dylan's Arms," a love song to Bob Dylan and favorite music in general, was co-written by Grammy-winning country and pop songwriter Don Henry. "The Song I Sang Before I Met You" was written with U.K. performer and producer Gary Go. "Streets of Rome" is a version of singer/songwriter and repeat collaborator Sondre Lerche's ruminative "Coliseum Town," slightly more sparsely arranged and with new lyrics ("In the streets of Rome/Rain fell down like a metronome"). Lerche performs guitar on the track. Lewis also reworks the traditional "Give Me the Roses Now" and the Bobo Rondelli-Stefano Bollani song "Gocce" (sung in Italian with a new English verse). The collaborations and covers mix seamlessly with the originals, all stained with the reflective tone and gentleness that permeate the album. Like her voice, the arrangements are refreshingly unaffected throughout. Classy and alluring, It's All True is another beautiful and tactfully produced offering from the honey-voiced songstress.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson