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Roberta Donnay: What’s Your Story

After close to a half-century at the top of his game, venerable producer Orrin Keepnews now restricts himself to working with a small handful of artists, one of whom is vocalist Roberta Donnay. Keepnews has chosen well, and his timing is ideal, having united with Donnay at the professional juncture when the Grammy-nominated, ASCAP Award-winning singer-songwriter has decided to commit herself to her first love, jazz.

Though Donnay’s former pop-rock leanings (with their shades of Stevie Nicks) remain evident, particularly on a rough-and-tumble treatment of Al Jarreau’s “Put It Where You Want It,” it is obvious throughout these dozen tracks that she knows how to swing and can sell a ballad with the best of them. There’s an infectiously charismatic lilt to her “What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?”; an inviting hint of pending delight in her “Small Day Tomorrow”; an intoxicatingly sexy push-pull at the heart of her self-penned “Stop This Train!”; a marvelous bluesiness that invigorates Mose Allison’s whip-smart “If You Live”; and the blurry regret of her “Drinkin’ Again” can match June Christy’s “Something Cool” shot glass for shot glass. If What’s Your Story is indicative of Donnay’s musical future, then let’s all be grateful she’s thrown her hat into the jazz ring.

Originally Published