The self-named Alexis is the third album by New York-based vocalist Alexis Parsons. To showcase her talents, she has chosen a medley of standards (half a dozen) and lesser-known but engaging originals, opening and closing with the Cole Porter classics "Easy to Love" and "In the Still of the Night." Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins, Kurt Weill, Astrud Gilberto and even Franz Schubert are also represented. For back-up, Parsons employs two triospianist David Berkman, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Matt Wilson on half a dozen numbers; pianist Arturo O’Farrill , bassist Jonathan Gilley and drummer Willard Dyson on the remaining five.
The mood is, for the most part, mellow and heavy-hearted, which suits Parsons' lucid and expressive voice well. She makes one feel the sorrow, especially on ballads such as "Easy to Love," "Gentle Rain," "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and "In the Still of the Night" (recited at a snail's pace that underscores the anguish). Parsons does have her upbeat moments, as on "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "Devil May Care" and "Speak Low." "Summertime" and "Weaver of Dreams" fall somewhere in between, while Schubert's "Organ Grinder" (it is hard to believe he also wrote the lyric, though it could be possible) is in a curious realm of its own. "Speak Low" is especially pleasing at an accelerated tempo.
Parsons' savvy is apparent from the outset, as she uses clever key changes to keep the precipitous "Easy to Love" within her range. She has no problems elsewhere, easily navigating the ups and downs of every number and making them shine. Arranging credits are not given, but most charts are either on the mark or close to it, while the supporting casts are splendid. An above-average narrative by a charming singer who should be more widely heard and appreciated.
Easy to Love; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Make It Last; Spring Can Really Hang You
Up the Most; Organ Grinder; Devil May Care; Summertime; Speak Low; Gentle Rain;
Weaver of Dreams; In the Still of the Night.