How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Vocalist and songwriter Lisa Lauren Manor's new CD,Timeless, is one of the strongest debuts I've heard in quite awhile. It's a multi-faceted, rewarding program of varying styles, yet it's centered around contemporary jazz. The CD opens with an energetic, R&B-flavored "Nothin' Down." Next up is the romantic ballad, "Starlite and You," with Manor's expressive vocals suggesting comparisons to Kevyn Lettau (where's she been lately?). The mid-tempo "No Matter Where" recalls Lettau as well. A horn sections adds spark to "I've Got a Thing for You." Various other flavors of jazzy pop continue the flow.
Manor considers herself first a songwriter, then a singer. All of the songs here were co-composed with keyboarding Joey Arreguin, except a nice slower, expressive version of "Alone Again, Naturally." The originals stand up well. Manor cites as influences Carole King, Elton John, and Billy Joel; the tunes reflect these composers' gifts for crafting a song, yet they're mostly in a jazzier vein. Manor wisely ensures the disc's success by hiring some of L.A.'s most accomplished and versatile studio aces for the date (see below). (Love & Laughter Music LLMCD-212)
Tracks: Enter; Nothin' Down; Starlite and You; I Got a Thing for You; I Can't Forget; Timeless Interlude; Walkin' With You (In the Pouring Rain); Baby, Be Mine; Alone Again, Naturally; No Podemos Ser (We Can Never Be); Ephemeral; No Matter Where; Seven Chances; Find Your Song; Exit. (53:16)
Lisa Lauren Manor (vocals); Joey Arreguin (keyboards); Frank Gambale, Paul Jackson Jr., Mark Vincent, Ric Flauding (guitar); Abraham Laboriel, Jimmy Earl (bass); Alex Acuna (drums and percussion), Cara Olinger, Vaneta Thompson (background vocals); Justo Almario (tenor sax and flute), horn section.