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BWW CD Review: AN EVENING WITH JENNIFER ROBERTS Should Be A Daily Indulgence

BWW CD Review: AN EVENING WITH JENNIFER ROBERTS Should Be A Daily Indulgence

Upon hearing the very first track on the CD "An Evening With Jennifer Roberts" it becomes readily apparent that this is going to be an unusually good record, and by the end of that opening track, the listener will find his or herself swaying, smiling and lost in what can only be labeled a perfect opening number. People unfamiliar with Ms. Roberts' work might be initially surprised by what a pretty voice this is, but it is authentically pretty, a pleasure to hear, made even more so by her skill at emoting through the lyric, a skill breathtakingly balanced with song styling mastery reminiscent of Anita O'Day or Nancy Wilson. Hearing this CD for the first time, one might feel a strong sense of regret that the discovery of Jennifer Roberts hadn't happened sooner, so deep is the dive into places most easily likened to a musical Great Barrier Reef. Jennifer Roberts is special, and that's putting it in simplest, most relatable verbiage.

An Evening With Jennifer Roberts, the liner notes explain, was a progressive show performed in New York, evolving from 2003 to 20014, and finally winding up a 2019 CD release. That CD is this ineffable album that listeners will want to hear over, time and again. Ms. Roberts and her team have curated a collection of 16 songs that make up 14 tracks providing a musical story from start to finish, a proclivity many singers have eschewed, with the advent of digital music sites from which one may download single songs, with the creation of playlists upon which one may place a melange of music to suit every mood. Once upon a time, a singer went into the studio with a set of songs that started at this point and moved like pieces on a chessboard to take the listener to that point, the most obvious example being Carole King's Tapestry - but this recording is more akin to Barbra Streisand's album People or Nancy LaMott's CD Listen To My Heart... in more ways than one. Not only are Jennifer Roberts' vocal artistry and emotional connection on a par with Streisand or LaMott's individual gifts, but Roberts' recording/mixing producer Sean Swinney has achieved outstanding feats of excellence through his work, and musical director/arranger Tedd Firth is accomplishing works worthy of mentioning Streisand's early colleague, the legendary Peter Matz. This CD, An Evening With Jennifer Roberts, could easily be mistaken for an album made in the heyday of vocalist records when The Great American Songbook and Broadway informed the music industry... except for the presence of two very obvious standouts by pop singer Karla Bonoff and soul music creator Curtis Mayfield, songs that make it patently obvious that Roberts' next CD needs to be nothing but modern music.

BWW CD Review: AN EVENING WITH JENNIFER ROBERTS Should Be A Daily Indulgence Let there be no mistake: every song on this CD is a moment of musical satisfaction, with Tedd Firth's arrangements (and solos!) providing Ms. Roberts with the jazzy mood, the cabaret feel, for which he has come to be known, and together Roberts and Firth present a partnership that one hopes will last a long time, one of eloquence and sophistication, equal parts flirty, intellectual, theatrical and vulnerable. The twosome communicates with one another in a manner so trusting that there remains no barrier between their artistry and an audience that bought a ticket to the show - everyone here is a friend, with the mutual benefit of supreme musical storytelling, not difficult with a song list that includes works by Rodgers & Hart, Deitz & Schwartz, Comden & Green, and a lot of Cy Coleman and his various collaborators. Moods shift and tones change as Roberts floats seamlessly between lovely ballads made lush like "I Walk a Little Faster" and "Sweet Kentucky Ham" and the uplifting pep of the playful "The Ballad of The Shape of Things" and laid-back sexiness of "The Other Side of The Tracks." Particular standouts are a complete three-act performance surprisingly made out of an old chestnut "Mean To Me," and the rarely recorded, unexpectedly touching, liltingly lovely "You There In The Back Row." This CD is, in fact, one of the nicest surprises this writer has come across in quite some time, and if I might make one small constructive observation for Ms. Roberts and co. for their next outing, I would point out how difficult it is to read the liner notes and song list, and suggest that artistic fonts are less important than legible ones. That, though, is a minor objection when compared to a record album so thoroughly enjoyed from the jauntily perfect opening number outlining the life of an actor to the hauntingly life-affirming closing number that leaves the listener longing and looking forward to the next time they will hear Jennifer Roberts sing, be it on a recording or in a club.

An Evening With Jennifer Roberts is on the One Man Band MUSIC label and is available on Amazon and iTunes

See Jennifer Roberts Website HERE

Photos by Michael Lee Stever are the cover art from An Evening With Jennifer Roberts


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