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Kenny Rankin: A Song for You

Those who have seen Kenny Rankin perform live might be inclined to describe him as more troubadour than singer-songwriter. This is because the veteran performer is truly a musical storyteller, with his elastic tenor voice and guitar moods cutting to the very heart of a song, communicating setting, emotion, character and more. Rankin’s unique perspective brings new insight to the (mostly) well-known compositions populating A Song for You (Verve), in the process creating one of the most intriguing cover albums to come along in quite a long time. Throughout, Rankin cuts across genres for unexpected twists. Lennon and McCartney’s “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” for example, is slowed down and orchestrated out into an awe-struck ballad, with Rankin’s voice crooning a joyful reverie. Likewise, the oft- covered “‘Round Midnight” is reimagined with an upbeat, swinging-jazz feel for a complete departure that really works. Where Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” is played out in a tense, bittersweet orchestration of winds and strings, “The Way You Look Tonight” bubbles blithely with offbeat guitar and jazzy bass for a light, hopeful tone. Sweet in the high range and resonant in the lower registers, Rankin’s voice communicates a closeness that sharpens the focus of these purposeful, carefully crafted arrangements even further.

Originally Published