Laura Hubert

Live at the Rex

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AllMusic Review by Jason MacNeil

Taken from a live performance at a well-known Toronto jazz club and hotel, on this album Laura Hubert seems to thrive in a live setting far more than on her debut studio album, My Girlish Ways. Although she sounds like she's getting the vocal kinks and nerves under control in "Blue Skies," the backing musicians carry the brunt of the number with flying colors. Each member of the horn section gets a solo in the song, but it never seems like a stalling tactic or filler. "What a fine band I have here this afternoon," she says before starting "Don't Be That Way." Hubert sounds more controlled here and gives a vocal delivery that is jazz but also has some country leanings to it in the style of Patsy Cline and Connie Francis. Unfortunately, like most live recordings, it has some annoying background noise and idle chatter. "The Gal From Joe's" is such an example, but it doesn't deter from a strong performance from both lead singer and band. If anything, Hubert usually allows the band one or two more solos than is necessary. It appears to be the norm for the first three consecutive tracks. "Sway" has a certain Latin tango or sway to it that gives Hubert an audible sparkle, showing her lighter side and stage presence. It's also the first opportunity pianist Peter Hill has to solo. The Louis Armstrong howling and growling during "Give Me a Pigfoot" has the crowd and band in unison, a tune reeking of a Dixieland jazz rhythm. Taking things down a notch is the average "They Didn't Believe Me," which seems rather mundane compared to the previous song. Perhaps the prettiest song is the bedtime lullaby appropriately called "Sleep." Starting with a slow and melancholy feel, it quickly picks up the pace in a style resembling the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The album's worst track is a run-through of "That's How I Feel About You," which seems bland at best. When Hubert covers Hoagy Carmichael's "Memphis in June," everything is "blissfully dandy" with the performance and arrangement. The audience's applause is loudest here. You can even hear the piano style of Fats Domino as wells in the rhythm during "I Love You Honey," a fast-paced and upbeat ragtime number.