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Ilona Knopfler: Live the Life

You could spend big bucks searching for the two or three Japanese reissues of the scintillating, early-’50s Blue Stars of France (where Blossom Dearie made her pre-solo mark), or invest a fraction of the amount on French vocalist Ilona Knopfler’s breezily Continental follow-up to 2003’s pop-driven Some Kind of Wonderful. Though Knopfler is too full-bodied a singer to draw valid comparisons to the girlishly winsome Dearie and only uses backup singers sparingly throughout Live the Life (most notably New York Voices’ Kim Nazarian), she embraces every ounce of the languidly assured sophistication that made the Blue Stars so enticing.

As you listen to the bilingual Knopfler lovingly caress such tender slices of sentimentality as “But for Now,” “This Is Always” and “Alone Together,” descend into the misty, labyrinthine depths of “Les Moulins de Mon Coeur” (lyricist Eddy Marnay’s French reworking of “The Windmills of Your Mind”) and strip “Girl Talk” of its stale misogyny by reinventing it as the sparkling “Dansez Sur Moi,” just think of her as a one-woman Manhattan Transfer infused with vivaciously urbane perspicacity.

Originally Published