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BWW CD Review: Gabrielle Stravelli DREAM AGO Is More Like A Dream In Real Time

Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars - just get the album and put it on repeat.

BWW CD Review: Gabrielle Stravelli DREAM AGO Is More Like A Dream In Real Time

Sometimes I forget that Gabrielle Stravelli is not the biggest star in the music industry. It is true that she has earned much respect and many fans, but it is also true that she should have all the respect and all the fans - and most of the time I walk around thinking that Ms. Stravelli is the best-selling jazz vocalist of all time... because, dudes and dudettes, she should be. Anyone who would argue has two options - they can either come talk to me, or they can pick up a copy of her album DREAM AGO.

BWW CD Review: Gabrielle Stravelli DREAM AGO Is More Like A Dream In Real Time Now, here's the thing about Ms. Stravelli's CDs - there are three* of them available on her website, and they are all quite good, all worth checking out, all worth spending money on. The first of them, STAIRWAY TO THE STARS, is an album of standards, the most recent, PICK UP MY PIECES, is a tribute album to legendary singer-songwriter Willie Nelson. The middle album, though, is the one that features twelve songs, nine of which the singer contributed to as songwriter. If you're going to get to know a singer, what better way is there than listening to them perform their own compositions? What could be more intimate in a listening experience? Probably nothing, which is why this writer went right for the middle child, with satisfying, gratifying results.

Like an accomplished actress performing in rep with a different show six nights a week, Gabrielle Stravelli has created an album in which every track gives her a new opportunity to display a different side of Gabrielle. It may be a confident but laid back Gabrielle opening the show with some Cole Porter, it could be an introspective but impassioned Gabrielle honoring her father on the self-penned title track, or perhaps it's a brash but worldly Gabrielle premiering a groovin', scat-tastic "Cake of My Child", the first of her compositions to hit the tracklist. Whichever of the characters is being presented in the twelve-song, fifty-three-minute album, one thing is for certain: Stravelli leaves no stone unturned in her effort to give her listeners a pleasurable, compelling, and imaginative ride through the mystical musical labyrinth of her mind.

Even if Gabrielle had not opened herself up to audiences with her original songs (some written with partners, others on her own) there is always going to be that voice, one that makes any Gabrielle Stravelli album a winner. In a world filled with vocal qualities ranging from beautiful to interesting, from unique to skillful, Stravelli seems to be the possessor of a trifecta of perfection: a completely pure sound, an investment of time in the study of her craft, and a personality relaxed enough to give her permission to have fun on every cut, whatever the emotional exploration of the individual story she is telling. There is not one wasted moment on the album thanks to that voice unparalleled, but also because of the artists supporting the singer, particularly producer David Cook and arranger Pat O'Leary, both of whom have treated all of the musicians like they are the most important person in the studio, putting each instrument firmly within the listener's grasp while providing them with a veritable playground of musical mazes in which to romp. It is an enviable gathering of gifted artists, indicating Stravelli's discerning taste in colleagues - everyone should be so choosy and so lucky.

Much ballyhoo has been made over the fact that this is mostly a collection of new songs but don't panic, dear reader, because the three covers here will allow you to relax for a few moments with an old friend, especially on a visionary new take on "It Might As Well Be Spring" - but the fact remains that the songs that are new to you will rapidly be made into old friends through obsessive repeated listenings. If there is any doubt that Gabrielle Stravelli should continue at songwriting, look no further than the hypnotic "If Only Love Was Blind", the most haunting, heartbreaking recording to come along since Dorothy Collins lost her mind and Bonnie Raitt tried to make you love her. This won't be the only track played on a loop, though, as this writer discovered while falling into a hole with the commanding "More" which feels like breathing, having a dance party with the deceptive "Didn't You Tell Me" which presents a firm feminist message with infectious girl group bounce, and getting life from the formidable "Now I Know" which closes out the album by fusing classic jazz with fabulous funk. From start to finish Dream Ago is a musical fantasy come true, much like the leading lady responsible for the reverie.

Gabrielle Stravelli DREAM AGO is a 2017 release on the Big Modern Music label and is available on most streaming platforms, as well as the Gabrielle Stravelli website HERE

*Gabrielle Stravelli's debut album, WAITING IN VAIN, is available on Amazon and Apple Music.

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