The Fantasy Sessions
Last month in this space, I relayed the heartwarming tale of Bay Area singer Natasha Miller and her rescue from obscurity of one-hit songwriter Bobby Sharp by recording not just one but two full albums of Sharp compositions that had spent years yellowing inside his piano bench. Now, the man himself—whose only previous claim to fame was the 1962 Ray Charles smash “Unchain Your Heart”—has, at age 81, emerged from the shadows, singing another baker’s dozen of self-penned tunes while accompanying himself on piano (with Miller in the production booth).
Though Sharp’s voice isn’t going to keep Michael Bublé or Curtis Stigers up nights worrying, you can’t help but admire his octogenarian pluck—and you’ve got to love his way with a melody and a lyric. Most of Sharp’s elegant ballads are the sort you’d expect (or, at least, would have expected a half-century ago) to be embraced by Billy Eckstine, though his grittily melancholy “Lonesome Traveler” would have been ideally suited to Charles, and his “North Wind” sounds precisely like the sort of reflective musing favored by Sinatra in the September of his years. Truly a trove of lost treasures found.