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Julie Kelly : Everything I Love

She looks like a suburban soccer mom and has a wide-open, sun-burnished voice to match. Which is not to suggest that Julie Kelly, who has been churning out terrific albums for over a decade, is a jazz lightweight.

To appreciate the depth of Kelly’s talent, one need look no further than “Indian Summer,” the penultimate track of the dozen included on her latest, and most satisfyingly wide-ranging, disc. Most singers take the safe, predictable route with “Indian Summer,” injecting the Al Dubin/Victor Herbert chestnut with autumn chill to underscore the lyrics’ wistful sense of loss. Kelly instead does something marvelously clever, intensifying the ache by playing it lighter, filling her skies with clouds that are just starting to gray. I suspect it’s a technique she learned by studying June Christy so carefully (her previous disc was a full-length tribute to the misty Miss Christy), and it returns full force for the closing number, “I Keep Going Back to Joe’s” which, in the contemplative spirit of Christy’s classic “Something Cool,” lines the inherent regret with a layer of faint, fading hope. Such skill also pervades Kelly’s gentle blend of “Once Upon a Summertime” and “When the World Was Young” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”

But there’s more to Kelly than just softly fogged remorse and reflection, as demonstrated by a double dip into the Brazilian bag she loves so intensely, with the yin-and-yang of “Ela E Carioca” and “Berimbau,” a Dr. John-worthy delight called “Your Blues,” written by Lou Rawls’ longtime pianist Jeff Colella, which Kelly aptly describes in the liner notes as a “New Orleans swampy thing,” and a gleeful reading of the title track, among the lesser known but most sublime of Cole Porter’s list songs.

Originally Published