This is Jacintha's third album for Groove Note, and her first with strings. Very popular in her native Singapore, she's beginning to get a worldwide reputation, and this release demonstrates why: Her voice is lovely, with clear diction and expressive, naturalistic phrasing. She draws the listener into a warm intimacy from the first track, "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams," a rarely covered and beautiful song with the perfect "rainy night in Paris" ambience supplied by Frank Marocco on accordion. Other highlights include a bluesy but refreshingly non-wailing "Black Coffee," with a fine, understated solo by Bill Cunliffe on piano; he's also good on the silky bossa "Manha de Carneval," where Anthony Wilson's melodic plucking contrasts nicely with the smoothness of the strings. Another unusual but happy choice, "When We Were Young," showcases the superb flügelhorn of Dmitri Matheny, which enhances four other tracks as well. Eight of the ten selections are ballads and, since Jacintha delivers her message straight and serene, the overall feel is quiet, sultry, and relaxing. After slooow readings of "The Shadow of Your Smile," "Lush Life," and "September Song," Joe LaBarbera's brushes and drum accents on "Harlem Nocturne" provide a welcome texture and pulse. The surprise of the CD is the startlingly original, soaring introduction to the vastly overplayed "Summertime," where Cunliffe's string arrangement evokes both Gershwin and modern French composers. This is excellent late-night listening; the local male vote was "mesmerizing."
Lush Life Review
by Judith Schlesinger