Vernelle Anders: At Last (2002)
Vernelle Anders is no newcomer to the vocal scene having performed for many years in Alaska, Hawaii and at various West Coast venues. Her soulful and on point vocalizing reflects the years of working in a variety of settings at a variety of locales. Not that there is cloying hand wringing, but instead a sense of I've been there and done that. Although the musical list is comprised mostly of standards, Anders is comfortable taking on the Motown classic "Neither One of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye", a favorite of Gladys Knight and she handles it as if she has been working in the genre forever. Lest things become depressed, out comes the swinging, R & B tinged "Let The Good Times Roll" featuring the honking alto of Ylonda Nickell. Nickell also lays down some sanctifying sax on the title tune. Among the gaggle of first rate tracks on this album is as touching a version of "Guess I'll Hang My Tears out to Dry" as one will encounter. She wrings every emotion inherent in the lyrics without becoming maudlin. There's nothing rushed here, as creative vocal dynamics combine with faultless phrasing. She is well served throughout the session by a group of fine musicians who have room to display their jazz wares. Especially telling is Jess Petty's flugelhorn on "A House Is not a Home". Anchoring the proceedings is the supportive piano of Wayne de la Cruz.
Heard in Anders's style is a smattering of Dinah Washington, Kay Starr and Frances Faye. But these names are mentioned only for the purpose of providing points of reference. Anders is her own singer. Like a very good wine, her voice has aged has well to be savored by connoisseurs of the vocal art. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Almost Like Being in Love; A Face Like Yours; Besame Mucho; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry; Respect; It Had to Be You; This Is Always; At Last; It Might as Well Be Spring; A Cottage for Sale; Love for Sale; Neither One of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye; Let the Good Times Roll; A House Is Not a Home; Night Life
Personnel: Vernelle Anders - Vocal; Wayne de la Cruz - Piano; Ylonda Nickell - Alto Sax; Jess Petty -Flugelhorn; Bob Afifi - Flute; Steve Weber - Bass; Kendrick Freeman - Drums
Record Label: Music in the Vines