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Wesla Whitfield: In My Life

Three-dozen years on, and San Francisco chanteuse Wesla Whitfield remains the classiest, most consistently sublime act on the cabaret scene. Never brassy or showy, unlike many of her cabaret compatriots, Whitfield is blessed with impeccable phrasing and a remarkable way with words. Seemingly incapable of false (or forced) sentiment, she adorns every lyric with precisely the right emotional pull. A slavish devotee of the Great American Songbook, Whitfield rarely strays from the tried-and-true comfort of time-honored standards, as is true throughout most of her umpteenth studio outing, In My Life (High Note). Here, 15 polished gems again place her in the ever-delightful company of her partner-in-sublime, arranger-pianist-husband Mike Greensill, including a deliciously sensuous “Tea for Two” and gorgeously clouded, cashmere readings of “I Have Dreamed,” “But Beautiful” and “Some Other Time.” They are, though, augmented by stellar examination of the bittersweet folds of the Lennon-McCartney title tune, shaped as an homage to her exciting, but lonely, earliest years in the City by the Bay. As always, Whitfield digs up an obscure treasure. This time it is the tender “When the Children Are Asleep” from Carousel, which, to my ears, sounds like the Rodgers and Hammerstein answer (or, perhaps, prequel) to Kern and Hammer-stein’s similarly wistful “The Folks Who Live on the Hill.”

Originally Published