Commencing Her Own Sweet World with the Newley/Bricusse Feelin' Good indicates the tone of the entirety of Isabel Stover's repertoire, a soft dreamy world alternating between seductively positivistic cuts and then languid reminiscences perhaps best underscored by the take on the Evans/Livingston Never Let Me Go, preferring literacy of the Fitzgeraldian/Proust variety over torchy passion. That latter aspect transfers to Dave Tidwell's sax solo carefully contrasting the vocals, opening a window on the outside world. Stover's deeply personal, lost in the bittersweet haze of her experience, Tidwell paints in the expository surroundings.
The rendering of Eden Ahbez's classic Nature Boy pulls the song into Ipanema territory, softening what's normally more robust atmospherics, transmuting the ambience into a classicalism pointed up by Jonathan Alford's pianistics crossing into Bill Evans territory. Like Tidwell, he lays down a sharp counterpoint to Stover which works marvelously to her benefit as she re-enters. Speaking of Evans…man, is his Waltz for Debbie ever undergoing a resurgence! I've caught it on about 60% of the incoming vocal discs, and Stover sandwiches it chockablock in a quartet of unusually sympathetic compositions…'unusual' because she interprets them thusly, providing the interface.
A couple surprises here: Taj Mahal's Lovin' in my Baby's Eyes and Michael Jackson's Human Nature. The latter's a letter perfect piano bar / corporate lounge version designed to lay the audience back into its familiarity and later ratchet up the involvement via emphatic chorus work. Mahal's cut is the funkiest of the disc, a sidestep into the local city park on a Saturday afternoon rather than the cabaretic atmosphere so prevalent to Sweet World. Maria Muldaur would've tackled that song in the same fashion chosen by Stover, a bit of an erotic romp both girl-next-door innocent and worldly urgent simultaneously, and I suspect Toni Tenille also would've homesteaded the song thusly, but Stover's the one who aced 'em, and both the others will likely be lending an ear to the result.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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