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Bassey shows how it should be done,
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This review is from: The Performance (Audio CD)
Shirley Bassey has long been looked upon as a the high priestess of camp and the diamond encrusted goddess of divadom. What most people too often overlook is that this lady has been able to be sustain a career of over 50 years for one rather simple reason: she is an outstanding vocalist. To be blunt, it is a very long time indeed since the Dame has been given material or a producer worthy of her Olympian talents. One needs to go back to the classic UA albums from the 70s to remind oneself just how great a recording artist that she was. Until now, that is.
This is the best album she has produced in decades. It is lovingly arranged and produced with songs that force Bassey to be more introspective and perhaps less bombastic than is usually the case. The writing talent enlisted for the project is impressive and all of the songs (to a greater and lesser extent) deliver. Highlights are 'Almost There' and 'The Performance' - a suitably self-reflexive comment on the loneliness that accompanies the effort involved in being 'Shirley Bassey.' However, the real gem of the album is the track by producer, David Arnold entitled 'As God Is My Witness.' It is an achingly beautiful melody and finds Bassey opting for some mellow falsetto singing when she just as easily could have provided a gale force rendition more in keeping with her 'style.' The modulation she sings in the reprise at the end is spine tingling. For those of you who like the belter, she can still has the ability to produce a kind of euphoria in the listener. The last operatic note of the album is classic Bassey, but it is accompanied by a shimmer of strings that dissolve into the ether rather than in a vegas-style crescendo.
A truly beautiful album that ought to win Dame Shirley a new legion of adoring fans. It must also surely count as one of the best discs of the year by any artist.