Ben Black

Remembered Face/Private Places

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For his second album, Seattle-based Ben Black has chosen to offer a play list running from familiar songs from the musical theater through Irish medleys to obscure Armenian folk music. Present are all the trappings for a melancholy mood that seems to be the minor theme for this session. There's the floating flute of Brenda Kay Neth on "Chinar Es" and her penny whistle on the Irish medley of "My Wild Irish Rose" and "Danny Boy," with the gently rolling cymbals throughout by John Bishop all resting on the expressive pianism of Marc Seales or Gary Fukushima. Using all of this support, and more, to the fullest, Black addresses the tunes with his high-pitched, pure voice in a hushed, gentle, subtle, almost poetic manner. On some tracks, you get more than one Black as he dubs himself in as a background singer. Many of the tracks can best be described as gorgeous and winsome, such as a reverent rendering of "Somewhere." "Danny Boy" is virtually guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of anyone from or with ties to the Emerald Isle. Another real heart-tugger is "Si Tu No Estas," done with just the backing of the acoustic guitar of Marco de Carvalho. Perhaps not very substantial, but certainly very pretty. This album recalls tea time at Boston Park Plaza Hotel Swan's Court with Black's beguiling non-threatening vocals wafting above the tinkling of the silver service and nibbling of cucumber sandwiches. All very civilized indeed.

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