Carmen Cuesta: One Kiss

Singer/songwriter Carmen Cuesta, writing in partnership with her guitarist husband Chuck Loeb, offers gentle, hooky compositions culling from a number of styles. From the lightly swinging, metronome-like quality of “What’s Next” to the lullaby feeling of “Que Mas Da,” her One Kiss (Bean Bag Entertainment 55555; 47:33) boasts intricate, engaging arrangements. Unfortunately, the missing piece to the album is an emotional vocal anchor. On the Sade-styled cut “Tell Me Something,” for example, Nelson Rangell is an expressive voice on alto sax, but Cuesta’s breathy vocal sounds distant and detached. Similarly, John Werking gives Jobim’s devastating “How Insensitive” a bittersweet read on piano which goes unsupported. On “One Kiss,” Cuesta sounds ethereal and piping, like another instrument in combination with Loeb’s gentle touch guitar line-but one can’t help but wonder how her sweet lyric would sound if delivered by someone with a richer range.