Brenda Earle

Songs for a New Day

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Primarily a pianist, Brenda Earle took up singing as an additional skill to help her club performances. She developed her vocals over the years, but the piano remains her true forté. Songs for a New Day, her fifth album, provides a good show of the dichotomy between her vocals and instrumentals. The album draws heavily on the American songbook, but includes a number of contemporary pieces reworked for a jazz setting and a few originals by Earle herself. She provides both the voice and the piano for the pieces, and diverges along the way. While her natural voice is sweet and carries a sense of innocence about it (as can be heard in "The Waltz"), she tends to stretch it beyond her realistic limits -- a common fault in torch singers, but one that can be overlooked when she gets into a good piano solo (as she does in the Cole Porter opener). While "Is It Any Wonder" proves elusive in a jazz setting, overworking her vocal speed and forcing a clash between the vocals and the rhythm. Marc Anthony's "Valio la Pena," though, gives her a chance to sing more boldly and veer into Andalusian territory surprisingly effectively. Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" comes off as a coffee shop performance, but a fairly good one. There's a lot more development ahead of Earle before her voice can keep up with her fingers, but the little glimpses the listener gets here are promising.

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