July/August 2002

Ben Black
Remembered Faces/Private Places
Origin Records

Ben Black, whose choirboy purity is reminiscent of the sweet, fawn-like androgyny of the pre-Psycho Anthony Perkins, is about as distant as a male singer could be from the rough 'n' tumble Stigers. Technically, Black is light years ahead of Perkins, but could use some of the screen star's dramatic know-how. Still, as evidenced throughout Remembered Faces/Private Places (Origin), his voice is singularly gorgeous and ideally suited to dreamy ballads like Sondheim's "I Remember," Rodgers and Hart's "Wait Till You See Her" and West Side Story's cautiously optimistic "Somewhere." Meatier fare seems tougher for Black to chew. For example, in his cleverly assembled South Pacific medley he handles lighter selections like "Dites-Moi" and "Younger Than Springtime" with ethereal aplomb but has a hard time selling the hard-driving, antidiscrimination message at the core of "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught." You will, however, forgive any such shortcomings when you hear Black deliver one of the most delicately beautiful readings of "Danny Boy" ever captured on disc.

Originally published in July/August 2002

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