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January/February 2008

Valerie Joyce
The Look of Love
Chesky Records

Feather-light may be ideal for supermodels and soufflés, but it’s not always an asset for singing voices. Accompanying Valerie Joyce’s sophomore release, there’s a rather forthright note that claims Chesky Records “give you the purest, most natural recordings made today captured with a single point microphone, using the world’s finest custom made electronics.” Well, thank goodness for that. Without such advanced technological assistance, Joyce’s fragile instrument—which doesn’t so much blend with piano (David Hazeltine), drums (Tony Reedus) and bass (Paul Gill) as hover, barely tethered, above them—seems poised, like a billowy little cloud, to float away altogether. Drifting through the Burt Bacharach songbook and steadily threatening to induce drowsiness, Joyce brings nothing fresh or insightful to any of the 10 selections. Fortunately, such Bacharach gems as “Close to You,” “The Look of Love” and “What the World Needs Now” have an inherent etherealness that at least jibes with Joyce’s whispered downiness. But when she attempts bolder sentiments like “Walk on By” or “A House Is Not a Home,” they become drowned in bathos.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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