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Vance Gilbert - Angels, Castles, Covers

Angels, Castles, Covers

Vance Gilbert

Disismye 005

Disismye Music © 2006

Available from CD Freedom.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwart@bowdoin.edu)

Vance Gilbert is one of those rare artists whose voices are instantly recognizable. His stint as a jazz singer influences all of his song interpretations—those he writes himself as well as the music of other songwriters. He is one of the best live performers in the business. His engaging wit, wisecracking humor, and deep warmth and humanity draw fans from all over the country.

In Angels, Castles, Covers, Gilbert sings the songs that have influenced him as an artist. From the sounds of Motown, through the R&B of Al Green and Gladys Knight, to classic Joni Mitchell and Shawn Colvin, the song palette represented here is rich and lively.

The recording opens with Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, a Motown classic made famous by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Tyrell. Gilbert supplies the warmth and charm in his buttery tenor, with Lori McKenna providing the right touch of soul. Gilbert nimbly picks out the melody on acoustic and electric guitars, but the real treat comes courtesy of Sean Staples on mandolin. Motown and mandolin—who would have thunk it?

Todd Rundgren's It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference is a show stopping, heart achingly beautiful song made eve more so in Gilbert's tenderly soft, jazzy interpretation. Melissa Ferrick and Natalia Zukerman sprinkle a bit of magic here with their harmony vocals.

It's hard to top Aretha Franklin, but Gilbert does just that in his cover of Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do). He slows down the original arrangement and puts the focus on his voice with a solo guitar accompaniment. It feels and sounds like a slice of heaven.

Tracy Grammer lends a gorgeous harmony vocal to Stevie Wonder's rousing prayer of a song, Heaven Help Us All, which closes the recording.

After seven CD's of original tunes, Gilbert's choice of an album of covers seems both fitting and fearless. Never one to shy away from taking chances, he displays his vocal virtuosity with some unexpected choices from the late 20th century songbook. He makes each and every tune sound fresh and new. So gather your friends and loved ones around and give Vance Gilbert's latest offering a spin. You will be humming and singing along soon enough. And then it will be Gilbert's voice you hear when you think of the classic songs on Angels, Castles, Covers. Bravo!

Track List:

  • Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing (N.Ashford/V.Simpson)
  • It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference (Todd Rundgren)
  • I'm So Tired of Being Alone (Al Green)
  • Rainy Night in Georgia (Tony Joe White)
  • A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
  • Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do) (Stevie Wonder)
  • Save the Last Dance for Me (Pomus/Shuman)
  • A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)
  • Castles Made of Sand (Jimi Hendrix)
  • Cry Like an Angel (Shawn Colvin)
  • Heaven Help Us All (Ronald Miller)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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