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March 2007

Sarah Partridge
You Are There: Songs for My Father
Nagel-Heyer

Three years ago in this space, when actress-turned-full-time-vocalist Sarah Partridge’s previous disc, Blame It on My Youth, was in the spotlight, I accused the otherwise likeable singer of a certain emotional vacuity. Unfortunately, the same problem plagues at least three of the 14 tracks that shape this wide-ranging tribute to her late father (a non-musician but serious jazz lover who, says Partridge, “set the tone” for her musical future). While Partridge, perhaps inspired by the album’s theme, captures precisely the right note of familial quietude on such selections as “You Are There” and “The Folks Who Live on the Hill,” there’s no storm in her “Stormy Monday Blues,” no moonlit passion in her “Stars Fell on Alabama” and, most surprising, no real sense of loss in her “We’ll Be Together Again.”

But the biggest crime here isn’t emotional. Lerner and Loewe’s marvelous score for My Fair Lady never included a number called “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely.” The word is “loverly,” and the song’s delicate structure, along with its narrative purpose within the larger framework of the show, is ruined if the word is stripped of its Cockney influence. It’s a sin that ranks right up there with misinterpreting the Gershwins’ “’S Wonderful” as “It’s Wonderful.”

Originally published in March 2007
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