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Melissa Walker: I Saw the Sky

Though she’s been around as long as fellow western Canadian diva Diana Krall, Melissa Walker hasn’t attained anywhere near the same level of recognition. If, however, the depth and maturity of I Saw the Sky (Enja ENJ-9409 2; 60:50) is proper indication, Walker’s time is nigh. (Nor does it hurt that she, like the lithe Krall, is as gorgeous as she is talented.) On this, her fourth CD, Walker sticks primarily to time-honored standards. On both “I’m Old Fashioned” and “My Shining Hour” she wisely avoids the dirgelike readings favored by most vocalists, instead interpreting them as robust celebrations. Her oddly upbeat “I Get Along Without You Very Well” proves less engaging, as does a strangely detached “Some Other Time.” Such debatable shortcomings are, however, rectified by a peppery “Let’s Take an Old Fashioned Walk,” an appropriately enthusiastic “Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You” and, best of all, a boisterous, Brazilian-hued spin through Marcos Valle’s “The Face I Love.” As for the original material, you can skip the new age-y title track (adapted from a Henry Dumas poem by Walker and pianist Shedrick Mitchell) and instead savor the soft, shadow-and-light shadings of Kenny Barron’s “Twilight Song.”

Originally Published