Marlena Shaw: Lookin' for Love (2004)
Shaw sings with the ease of absolute mastery, and each feeling she expresses rings true: she's been there, and more than once. But this doesn't mean her music is heavy. Her voice is warm and inviting, her time and phrasing impeccable, and where others might communicate pain and despair, she offers wisdom and hope (see, for example, her calm, lovely delivery of "For All We Know" and "Everything Must Change").
The selections on Lookin' for Love go down easytasty gems with an R&B flavor that's enhanced each time David Hazeltine hits the Fender Rhodes. I especially liked Shaw's up-tempo take on "Here's to Life," which emphasizes the celebratory nature of the lyrics (unlike the dirgey pace of Shirley Horn's classic version), and her "What a Wonderful World," which takes all the schmaltz out of Louis's hit and makes it prayerful. Another highlight is the finger-snapping pace of "Sweet Georgia Brown," followed by a moving piano/voice duet on "You Don't Know What Love Is."
No flavor-of-the-month singing herethis is fine, vintage wine, served in multifaceted crystal.
Track Listing: Hope in a Hopeless World, New York State of Mind, For All We Know, Just the Two of Us, Everything Must Change, Here's to Life, Easy Living, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, What a Wonderful World, Sweet Georgia Brown, You Don't Know What Love Is
Personnel: Marlena Shaw (vocals), David Hazeltine (piano, Fender-Rhodes), Jeff Chambers (bass), Lenny Robinson (drums), Saoli Sendo (percussion)
Record Label: 441 Records