Sarah Brooks: What Is My Heart For (2002)
First the positives: on a scale of one to ten, Sarah Brooks is well above mid–range, a fine singer with a pleasing contralto voice, ample power, precise intonation and suitable articulation, and she receives admirable support on What Is My Heart For from guitarist Joe Beck and percussionist Woodrow Williams. On the downside, this is a pop album with sporadic hints of Jazz and an explicit “made–for–radio” ambience, underscored not only by the impassive arrangements but also by the choice of music. There are three standards, one of which — Nat Cole’s early–’50s megahit, “Nature Boy” — is laid waste by reverb so excessive it renders the lyric almost unintelligible. The others (both nicely sung) are Cahn / Van Heusen’s “All the Way” and Raye / DePaul’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” They are the exceptions, however, as Brooks chooses elsewhere to reprise Lennon / McCartney’s “Blackbird,” Willie Dixon’s “I Wanna Make Love to You,” Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” Sting’s “Fragile” (return of the killer reverb!) and other pop–oriented themes (“Resurrection Day,” “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” “What Is My Heart For,” “I Just Wanna Make Love to You,” “House of the Rising Sun,” “Love Is the Way I Live,” “Since I Fell for You,” “Company”). Not a bad pop album, I suppose (I’ve not heard many recently) but almost devoid of interest for anyone who prefers Jazz.
Contact: Whaling City Sound, 560 Pleasant Street, PMB #01, New Bedford, MA 02740–6236. Web site, www.whalingcitysound.com
Track Listing: Resurrection Day; Whiter Shade of Pale; Nature Boy; Blackbird; What Is My Heart For; All the Way; I Just Wanna Make Love to You; Ain
Personnel: Sarah Brooks, vocals; Joe Beck, alto guitar, acoustic, electric guitar; Woodrow Williams, percussion.