Michele Anastasio


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Singers who want regular gigs have to look for them in lounges, clubs, and bistros. Big band opportunities have virtually disappeared and festival and concert spots are sporadic and difficult to get for those without a big name. Florida-based Michele Anastasio has all the qualities of a top-flight bistro/club performer. With that special catch in her voice, she can exude sadness and disappointment in the ways of life and love. This technique is used to make a point on the theme song from Mondo Cane, "More." That special country music pathos is added for "Crazy," sounding a bit like Patsy Cline. But a good lounge singer has to be versatile as well as talented. The offerings can't be limited to sad and despondent lost love. People come to these places to have fun. So that's why there's an upbeat, artfully arranged "The Boy From Ipanema" and a bouncy, swinging "But Not for Me" on the program. Anastasio turns both sassy and coy on "The Look of Love." But it's with the romantic that this singer excels. Her clear voice -- with a slight vibrato -- is tender on "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." This is usually the time when the bistro lights are turned down low and the singer is hit with a single, soft spot. The spot stays on for the sweet and lovable, with a hint of sensuality, "Embraceable You." The personnel list in the liner notes needs to be straightened out. It's Ian Broadbent, not Alan, as indicated. So the more famous pianist (in the U.S. anyway) doesn't play the guitar, too. Nonetheless, this is a fine vocal album that will recall small clubs with checkered table cloths and candles stuck into bottles that once held inexpensive, but very drinkable wine. Recommended.

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