Halfway Between Heaven & Love
There are relatively few contemporary female vocalists who evoke Peggy Lee, at least not genuinely. Suzanna Smith, new to recording but a seasoned pro who has been honing her artistry in and around the Bay Area for over a decade, numbers among that rare ilk. That Smith sounds like Lee—slightly breathy and warmly sensual with a hint of huskiness—is undeniable, but the parallels extend much further. Lee’s ability to not just caress a ballad but smother it in mink has seldom been matched. She was also a sage swinger—never too much, never too little—as well as a first-rate songwriter. Smith checks all those boxes.
Witness her astute readings of “Beautiful Love” and “Alone Together,” her cunningly upbeat treatment of “Summer Me, Winter Me” and the winking bump-and-grind of her “Hooray for Love.” Seven of the 13 tracks are well-crafted Smith originals (co-written with keyboardist Michael Coleman), ranging from the misty wistfulness of “Planes and Trains” to the New Orleans vamp of “Paper Boat.”