This is California native Mary Ann Douglas' second album. And like her first, it is made up entirely of her own compositions. Too often, this is a recipe for disaster. Not here, though. Mary Ann Douglas is an excellent tunesmith and a fine vocalist. More good news! She has garnered some of San Diego's finest musicians to join her in the studio. Especially important to the success of this album is Mike Wofford (who was on her first CD), an especially competent accompanist, arranger and undervalued pianist.
While her 1997 recording,
, was very good, this endeavor reveals a greater compositional maturity. More musical forms are explored such as bossa nova on "We Are The Song". She successfully takes on the blues form with "Nothing but Strangers" helped along by John Rekevics mournful sax. This track also has Rephael Harp's harmonica and is one of the CD's more outstanding cuts. There are more ballads here as well, like "Survivors", again featuring the saxophonist as Douglas distinguishes between love and friendship assuring her former lover that even though she doesn't love him " I still care about you. It's not love, but maybe habit. I don't know". There's even a bit of R & B on "Treat a Lady Special" with Peter Sprague's guitar laying down funky chords and runs. More good stuff. The bass of veteran Bob Magnusson is also an essential ingredient in the success of this session.
And like icing on the cake, Ms Douglas can sing too. She shows the influence of several of those singers who have preceded her, depending on the tune, Peggy Lee (listen to "I Don't Think I Can do This Anymore" and "Leave You with a Smile" which sounds a bit like "Fever"), Blossom Dearie (although not as breathy). and Joni James. Her phrasing , timing and diction are impeccable. It's straight singing, no scatting here.
Armed with a bushel full of good tunes and first rate musical neighbors playing the instruments, Mary Ann Douglas has turned out a winner with Sensory. Recommended.
Personnel: Mary Ann Douglas - Vocals; Mike Wofford - Piano; Bob Magnusson - Bass; Jim Plank - Percussion; John Rekevics - Sax/Flute; Peter Sprague - Guitar; Rephael Harp - Harmonica; Kevin Esposito - Trombone