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Jim Tomlinson: The Lyric

Jim Tomlinson is a terrific saxophonist, a top-drawer arranger and a fine producer. But the name Tomlinson alone isn’t likely to move a massive number of discs. So, covering a good two-thirds of the album cover and almost entirely obscuring an ironically blurry photo of Tomlinson and sax is a bright green sticker that makes it vibrantly clear his wife, big-selling vocalist Stacey Kent, figures prominently throughout. Indeed, with her dominating 10 of the 12 tracks, it’s impossible to distinguish this from any of the six Kent-credited albums that preceded it. But it’s a niggling point. Ever since Kent’s 1997 debut with Close Your Eyes, Tomlinson has been an integral part of her winning formula.

Here, though the billing is reversed, the results are as satisfyingly lovely as ever. True to form, Kent (who sounds exactly like the delightful but underappreciated Joanie Sommers) and Tomlinson stick to rich, smooth renditions of creamy standards (“Stardust,” “I Got Lost in His Arms”) and perky show tunes (“Cockeyed Optimist,” “If I Were a Bell,” “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top”). To Tomlinson’s credit, though, it is his stellar instrumental treatment of Luis Bonfa’s majestic “Manha de Carnival” and cheery jaunt through Jobim’s “Outra Vez” that out-gleam everything else on this bright, shiny collection.

Originally Published