In Love Again
, Stacey Kent's fifth album, pays tribute to the songs of Richard Rodgers, one of the most successful songwriters in music history, whose centenary year is celebrated in 2002. It features her usual quartet--saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, pianist Dave Newton, guitarist Colin Oxley and bassist Simon Thorpe--plus drummer Jasper Kviberg.
was a very good singer when she made her debut but on her fifth album she's even better. In Love Again
features high-class material delivered with emotional depth and clear individuality, a touch of expressive huskiness occasionally apparent. Her exceptional vocal control is excellent and so is her handling of the lyrics. Many of the finest melodies from the pen of Richard Rodgers were graced by the audacious and witty lyrics of Lorenz Hart and, in a song like "Manhattan", Miss Kent handles the internal rhymes and sophisticated mood with aplomb. In contrast she enters with feeling into the simpler, more evocative ambience of "It Never Entered My Mind" aided by a haunting tenor solo by Jim Tomlinson
. He's only on a few of the dozen tracks and the accompaniment is mainly handled by a rhythm section in which David Newton
's sensitive piano is outstanding, whether soloing or accompanying, while guitarist Colin Oxley also takes solos which are warm, mellow and wholly appropriate. There's no doubt however who is the true star of this well-conceived programme. Good jazz singers are few and far between and one as outstanding as Stacey Kent is not to be missed. --Graham Colombé