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July/August 2006

Ruth Young
This Is Always
Nagel-Heyer

But not for me. Those words come from the final cut of Ruth Young’s debut album, a 12-track tutorial of all the things that turn torch singers into torture singers. For those who are still curious, Young was Chet Baker’s alter ego from 1973 to 1982. She left him, and according to notes from Nagel-Heyer, Young endured Baker’s “self-destruction through drugs, [but] she had to step out of the path of a speeding train….”

Young surrounds herself with four musicians, with altoist Herb Geller the most outstanding, but like her icon she eschews drummers. Young seems locked in the key of dirge, which is her fatal mistake. She has an embarrassingly short range and is nearly incapable of sustaining a tone because her weak intonation won’t justify it. Even at those funereal tempos, her timing drags.

The only songs that threaten to wake her with bright tempos are “Let’s Get Lost,” “Look for the Silver Lining” and her best effort, “But Not For Me.” Too little, too late. Not recommended.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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