Lisa Hindmarsh is probably a new name to you but, hopefully, not for long. This exceptional young singer currently lives in Pittsburgh (well, actually in McMurray, a few miles to the south). Lost in a Summer Night
is her second CD, following last year’s debut, Now I Know
. She is, seemingly, at her best when digging into melancholy songs like the title song, Andre Previn’s "Lost in a Summer Night.” “The lyrics evoke wonderful imagery,” Hindmarsh writes in her well-written and informative liner notes, “You can almost hear the crickets and smell the summer night air.” This is true and Hindmarsh is the kind of singer to bring life to those exceptional Milton Raskin lyrics. The lovely opening flute on this piece is by Eric DeFade. I've heard only two other versions of this seldom-recorded gem, and I prefer Hindmarsh’s to both. In fact, this cut alone is well worth the price of this CD.
But there are many other gems on this CD. For example, Hindmarsh included the very rare “We’re the Couple in the Castle” and sings it with much warmth and charm. This may be the best of the many under-performed Hoagy Carmichael songs and why it has been ignored is a mystery. Hindmarsh guesses that the song’s obscurity possibly results from the fact that the movie in which it was featured ( Mr. Bug Goes to Town ) had the ill-timed misfortune to be released on December 7, 1941. That could explain it.
Another favorite cut on this CD is the funky but bittersweet “Robert Frost,” written – words and music – by bassist Jay Leonhart. Hindmarsh opens up her voice a bit and gets a rock feeling cooking. Once again I am very impressed with her ability to tell the story as well as “tell the music.”
Pianist/composer/vocalist Richard Rodney Bennett has been knighted in England, and we folks in The Colonies should likewise dub him with some comparable respectful address. ”I Never Went Away,” one of his most touching songs, shows off his ability as a composer. Hindmarsh sings this quiet song accompanied by only Scott Elliott’s lambent guitar work. In the liner notes Hindmarsh observed that "Skylark" is one of her favorite songs. It is a recognized classic and she delivers this Carmichael-Mercer standard with obvious affection but, perhaps, a bit too literally. However, no such quibbling about the Marvin Fisher-Jack Segal mini-masterpiece “I Keep Going Back to Joe’s,” which suits Hindmarsh just fine, since this is a story of loss and regret and she is that rare singer who focuses on verbal coherence, putting the lyrics first. I'll mention one other fine interpretation. Hindmarsh stretches out on a gospel-inflected version of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday,” which she cleverly merges with Cannonball Adderley’s “Sermonette.” Her father, Barry, accompanies her on the Hammond A-100 on “Sermonette” and makes the most of his mini-gig by swinging very strongly. I've focused on her ballad singing but this is not to say that she cannot handle rhythm songs. She swings and she scats but, nonetheless, I find her most convincing on what Sinatra, the Chairman, calls “saloon songs.”
Hindmarsh’s support, which is stellar, consists of the Peck family. Skip, the father, is at the piano and his sons, Nathan and Alex, provide the rhythm (bass and drums, respectively). Interestingly, a third Peck, Skip's brother Jamie, did all the mixing. Eric DeFade plays the saxophones and flute and Scott Elliott provides that tasty guitar work. These folks are unknown to me, but are obviously amongst Pittsburgh's finest.
This is one of the better vocal albums I have heard this year and I am eagerly looking forward to Lisa Hindmarsh's next CD. It is a pleasure to hear a young vocalist sing with such warmth and naturalness. For details on Hindmarsh and how to order this exceptional CD, visit her website at http://www.lisahindmarsh.com
Personnel: Lisa Hindmarsh - vocals,
Skip Peck - piano,
Nathan Peck - guitar,
Alex Peck - drums,
Eric DeFade - saxes and flute
Scott Elliott - guitar (on "I Never Went Away")
Barry Hindmarsh - Hammond A-100 (on "Sermonette")