Vocalist Anne Walsh has an authentic style of singing that is neither purely jazz or purely pop but rather a fusion of the two. Joined by her husband Thomas Zink who produced and arranged her debut recording Pretty World released by his label A To Zink Music, Walsh’s selection is rooted in American and Brazilian classics including covers of Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s “My Favorite Things” and “Waters Of March” from Antonio Carlos Jobim. The selection additionally features contemporary pop tunes such as Sergio Mendez’s samba-driven “Chave Chuv” and Suzanne Vega and Kevyn Lettau’s misty ballad “Winter.” Walsh’s vocals inject rays of light into somber and melancholic arrangements tooling a fluidity that is soothing and natural. Pretty World is perfectly tailored to Walsh’s register and philosophy about life, and is very persuasive in converting others to follow along her path.
The recording fosters a concert setting as opposed to a overly produced studio offering as instruments attach to one another and blossom under each other’s tutelage. This was accomplished by using live musicians and allowing them the freedom of improvise and work off of each other’s vibe like in the bouts of perky xylophone-toned doodles and the eruptions of whistles in Bob Wilson’s upbeat minuet “He Love You.” With Zink playing the piano, keyboards and synths, the songs are cemented in a comely undertone which compliments Walsh’s register. For example, the soft and airy feel in songs like Keith Jarrett’s “My Song” and Pat Metheny’s “So May It Secretly Begin” bode nicely with the heavenly lilt in Walsh’s pitch. In the case of Metheny’s and Jarrett’s songs as well as with Don Grolnick’s bossa nova shaded “Pools,” original lyrics needed to be penned for Walsh which were written by Joe DeRenzo. Walsh’s vocals have a graceful stride that brings out the beauty in these tracks, and the melodies seem to embrace the warmth that she provides.
Contributing their talents to the recording are a group of musicians that have worked with Sergio Mendez including guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, bassists Carlitos Del Puerto and Jerry Watts, percussionist Tiki Pasillas, and saxophonist-flautist Gary Meek. Walsh and Zink additionally incorporated strings into the recording which gave tracks like Cole Porter’s “In The Still Of The Night” and Mendez’s “Pretty World” an elevated stance. The string section includes Peter Kent, Kathleen Roberts, Cameron Patrick, and Missy Hasin.
The musicians casted for the recording are large in numbers, though the music is subdued and primarily softens the senses. Even with the numerous improvisations provided by the band and with Walsh exerting complete freedom in her vocal melodies, everyone was on the same page playing to perform the songs in an optimal light and it worked.