Angela Verbrugge: The Night We Couldn’t Say Goodnight (Gut String)

A review of the debut album from the Canadian vocalist

Angela Verbrugge

The cover of The Night We Couldn't Say Goodnight by Angela Verbrugge

Angela Verbrugge seems to understand the importance of a first impression, as her debut album offers a wide-angle look at her manifold talents without feeling forced or showy. A singer nurtured on the British Columbia jazz scene, the Vancouver-based Verbrugge possesses a winsome, brightly burnished, pliable voice, ample emotional intelligence, considerable songwriting skills, and conspicuously good taste. With top-notch accompanists—Ray Gallon on piano, Anthony Pinciotti on drums, and Cameron Brown on bass—she delivers 13 songs, including four originals, that cover a lot of territory.

It takes some moxie to lead with two pieces of her own—the steeplechase collaboration with Gallon, “I’m Running Late (That’s the Question),” and the sultry title track—before offering a wondrous version of the Gershwins’ “Love Walked In” complete with oft-overlooked verse. The album’s sequencing often amplifies a song’s impact, as when Steve Allen’s rousing “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” follows her original “You’re Almost Perfect.”

Verbrugge makes the most lasting impression with her sprints into left field, as on the Latin-tinged “Si Tu Pudieras Quererme,” a Spanish translation of “You and the Night and the Music.” And she gets major points for interpreting Nino Rota’s haunting theme from The Godfather. While Larry Kusick’s lyrics for “Speak Softly, Love” are as forgettable as Rota’s melody is indelible, Verbrugge makes a convincing case that the song deserves further attention. A tango-inflected arrangement of “The Moon Is Yellow” doesn’t fare quite as well, but she closes the album with another strong original, “How Did I Know This Was the End?,” a Nat Adderley-ish relationship kiss-off co-written with Gerry Teahan. With so many smart decisions and memorable tracks, I’m eager to hear what Verbrugge does next. c

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