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May 2007

Joan Watson-Jones
I Thought About You
Eye of Samantha

If, for whatever reason, you’re in search of Blossom Dearie’s vocal doppelganger, you could do a lot worse than Joan Watson-Jones. That Watson-Jones sounds similar to the reedy, girlish Dearie is undeniable. The resemblance can sometimes be downright eerie. And, when Watson-Jones sticks to the sort of peppy tunes that the jazz-savvy Blossom typically favors—here represented by delectable bonbons like “Shiny Stockings” and “Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin’”—she’s nearly as delightful as Dearie to listen to.

But, while Dearie knows how to play to her strengths, wisely aware that hers is a style unsuited to deep purple melodrama or indigo heartache (on songs of love and loss, she inevitably opts for wistful over woebegone), it’s a lesson Watson-Jones has yet to learn. As a result, when she attempts to fire the torches of, say, “Since I Fell for You” or “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine” (irritatingly credited, and sung, as “That Man”), she instead sounds like a wide-eyed lass playing with matches. Nor can Watson-Jones rival Dearie’s finely polished storytelling skill. Where Dearie can make even such trifles as “To Keep My Love Alive” or “Peel Me a Grape” sound not only slyly sexy, but also keenly intelligent, Watson-Jones seems merely cute.

Originally published in May 2007
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