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Kelley Johnson: Home

Listen to the first few bars of the opening track of Seattle native Kelley Johnson’s latest album, and you’ll swear you’ve discovered a rare Carmen McRae rendition of Abbey Lincoln’s “Should’ve Been.” Immediately, though, Johnson’s own style-distinctly McRae-esque and just as commanding, but seasoned with dashes of Sheila Jordan shadowiness and Lena Horne pluck-shines through.

Working, as always, with her personal and professional partner, the gifted pianist John Hansen (who alternates with the sublime Geoffrey Keezer), Johnson demonstrates her dexterity with a mixed bag of standards, extending from a stunning, languorous ramble through “The Sweetest Sounds” and a dreamy “Moon River” to a lilting “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” (significantly enriched by Jay Thomas’ horn work) and an easy, sun-dappled “Love Walked In.” Cleverly offset by a deeply romantic slice of Johnson-penned poetry, Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s heart-wrenching “Where Do You Start” is delivered with precisely the right sense of numbed pain. The shadowed reflection continues with Ivan Lins’ haunting “Even You and I.”

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