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Carol Welsman: Journey

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When, three years ago, Carol Welsman delivered the rather underwhelming I Like Men: Reflections of Miss Peggy Lee, who knew it represented a stylistic turning point? Welsman has always been an extremely warm singer, but never what you’d describe as dewy or fragile. Across all 14 of the exploration-themed tunes that fill Journey, the Canadian chanteuse and pianist continues her tilt Lee-ward, precisely echoing Peggy’s breathy, ethereal style. By and large it works, largely because Welsman is as intelligent an interpreter as Lee was.

Though only one Lee-penned tune is included-“Where Can I Go Without You,” the worldwide search for post-breakup solace she crafted with Victor Young-Peggy’s imprimatur is evident throughout. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” the woebegone interior monologue of which seemed so ideal for Lee when she included it on 1968’s Two Shows Nightly, is given a similarly slow, ruminative reading. Welsman’s “Two for the Road” is a mirror image of Lee’s hushed, contemplative version from 1967. And though Peggy’s take on “You’ve Come a Long Way From St. Louis” (with George Shearing in 1959) was a shade slyer, Welsman ably captures the same purring perceptiveness. Venturing further out, Welsman offers a vibrant “Samba de Avião,” a sprightly “Fly Me to the Moon” in French and an impressively bruised “Travelin’ Light.” But most satisfying is her shimmering sway through Johnny Mercer and Marian McPartland’s “Twilight World” that closes the album.

Originally Published