Cynthia Crane

Smoky Bar Songs for the No-Smoking Section

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Salon chanteuse Cynthia Crane follows her debut album with an agenda of songs befitting an off the beaten track drinking hideout at two in the morning. Most numbers on the musical agenda are guaranteed to make those drowning their woes in booze at a late-night bar feel somebody cares. Tunes such as "Angel Eyes," "I Never Know When to Say When," and one of the classic bar tunes of all times, "Something Cool," are given a dramatic reading by the inestimable Crane, who is simply a genius with this kind of material. With a set of vocal chords that evokes the full range of emotions without affectation, Crane fits right into this boozy atmosphere. Bill Easley's presence on "Drinkin' Again" helps make her husky-voiced rendition a strong competitor of those by Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin, and Gloria Lynne, soul queens all. This track is one of Crane's very fine efforts on this CD. But it's not all consolation comforting stuff. There's some tongue in cheek along the way, as on "Out of Fashion," which features the vibes of Warren Chiasson. Despite the gloomy collection of tunes, nonetheless appropriate for the occasion, Crane's voice comes through like a beacon. She has all the credentials of a fine cabaret singer, a good story teller, clear, uncluttered diction, and she stays on key. There's a touch of Sophie Tucker, Edith Piaf, and any number of earthy blues singers in the way she delivers these melodies. Mike Renzi deserves his shared top billing, setting the stage perfectly for Crane as he has for the many other vocalists he has accompanied over the years. This is late-night music at its best. Recommended.

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