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December 2000

Stacey Kent
Let Yourself Go: Celebrating Fred Astaire
Candid Records

A young American vocalist who has caused something of a stir in England, Stacey Kent faces stiffer competition in her homeland. She's going to have to come up with fresher album concepts than yet another Fred Astaire tribute. (Mel Torme saluted Astaire on a 1956 Bethlehem LP, the first of many similar projects by others including Ruby Braff, Andre Previn and Tony Bennett.) Like Rosemary Clooney, Kent is a straightforward traditional pop singer who favors jazz backing. (She affords generous solo space to her reedman-husband Jim Tomlinson, pianist David Newton and guitarist Colin Oxley.) Hewing closely to the melody lines, Kent delivers 13 familiar standards in a thin, coy, girlish voice reminiscent of Joanie Sommers and the late Beverly Kenney-but without their authority and vivaciousness. A few tracks stand out from the others-"S'Wonderful" recast as a bossa nova; a voice-and-guitar "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plans"-but not enough to redeem an unadventurous, cloying album.

Originally published in December 2000
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