Sara Gazarek

Return to You

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Nothing shines brighter than a rising star and vocalist Sara Gazarek delivers a sensational follow-up to her widely hailed 2005 debut that focused on Great American Songbook standards. On Return to You, her expanded repertoire features an array of new textures and sounds via woodwind, brass, and string accompaniment that reshapes Seamus Blake's "Northern Lights," Josh Nelson's "Just Let Me Be," and Paul McCartney's pop standard "Junk." Gazarek does a fine job on Joni Mitchell's "Carey," giving it a playful mood. By contrast she gives Billy Joel's lovelorn lyrics on "And So It Goes" a complete emotional makeover. The recording also features several new songs written by her pianist Josh Nelson, including the opening track "Let's Try This Again," which he co-wrote with Gazarek. However, she shines brightest as a singer, and on "Northern Lights," her voice is delicate, sensitive, and has a strong resemblance to Norah Jones' folk-jazz style. Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" commands your attention because of the rarely recorded final chorus that is included here. Overall, Return to You is a complete gift that should endear Gazarek's fans even closer to her easygoing, youthful sound and charisma. [A bonus track version was also released.]

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