Singers who want steady gigs these days find them in lounges, clubs and bistros. Big band opportunities have virtually disappeared and festival and concert spots are sporadic and difficult to get for those not having a big name. Florida-based Michele Anastasio has all the qualities of a top flight bistro performer. She has that special catch in her voice which exudes sadness and disappointment in the ways of life and love. She uses it to great effect on the theme song from Mondo Cane
, "More". A special country music pathos is added for Willie Nelson's big hit "Crazy", sounding a bit like Patsy Cline. But a good lounge singer has to be versatile as well as talented. Everything can't be sad and despondent lost love stuff. People come to these places to have fun. So that's why there is an upbeat, cleverly arranged "The Boy from Ipanema" and a bouncy, swinging "But Not for Me" on the program. Anastasio mixes sass and cuteness for "The Look of Love". But it's the romantic that this singer excels. Her clear voice - with a slight vibrato - becomes tender on "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square". This is usually the time when the lights are dimmed and the singer is hit with a single, soft spot. The spot stays on for the sweet and lovable, with a hint of sensuality, on "Embraceable You". The personnel list in the liner notes needs to be straightened out. It's Ian Broadbent, not as indicated. So the more famous pianist doesn't play the guitar, too.
Nonetheless, this is a fine vocal album that will create mental images of small clubs with checkered table cloths and candles stuck into bottles which once held inexpensive, but very drinkable wine. Recommended.
Personnel: Michele Anastasio - Vocals; Bob Edwards - Piano; Ian Broadbent - Piano*/ Guitar; Robin Jones - Percussion; Ian Scott Taylor - Bass