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Stacey Kent: I Know I Dream

Dan Bilawsky By

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Stacey Kent has practically done it all over the past twenty years, selling north of two million albums, putting her gorgeously delicate stamp on standards, introducing fresh tunes into the canon, racking up awards, and bringing her flawless voice to fans in more than fifty countries. But one thing she hadn't done prior to this point is record an album with an orchestra. Cross that one off the list now and bathe your ears in this spellbinding music.

With I Know I Dream, Kent's voice receives a warm embrace from a sizeable orchestra containing nearly sixty musicians. But rather than force her to play up to sweeping peaks or grandiose ideals, the strings and winds manage to magnify the warmth and confidential tone endemic to Kent's work. Somehow, this influx of sounds leads to an even further dimming of the lights and sharpening of the emotional intent. It's intoxicating understatement at its finest.

Kent's sensitivity, grace, and multilingual savoir faire all contribute to this pleasure cruise. She serves as an expert tour guide through songs of love, moments of nostalgic reflection, and expressions of joy. Her voice can act as a ray of sunshine or a consoling hand, but above all it serves as a mirror for the heart.

Pieces like "Bullet Train," powered by a contemporary polish and groove, and "Make It Up," with a perky Brazilian flavor, both serve as aural pick-me-ups; forays into French—sly-turned-direct during Serge Gainsbourg's "Les Amours Perdues," emotionally gripping on Léo Ferré's "Avec Le Temps"—leave singular memories hanging in the mist; and scaled back settings like "I Know I Dream," where voice and piano commune with the moment before a stunningly gauzy orchestral draping is drawn around Kent, leave you breathless. Few singers can work their way into a lyric like this.

These arrangements—most by Tommy Laurence, a few involving Jim Tomlinson's hand with or without a partner—fit Kent like a glove, playing to her quiet strengths. The material is first-rate, with Jobim gems and French tearjerkers sharing space with appealing songs Tomlinson co-wrote with (either) Cliff Goldmacher, Kazuo Ishiguro, or Antonio Ladeira. And the musicians, of course, deserve high marks in working to the parameters of the Stacey Kent aesthetic. While this is but one more jewel in a discography with many, it's one that deserves singling out for its luster.

Track Listing: Double Rainbow; Photograph; Les Amours Perdues; Bullet Train; To Say Goodbye; Make It Up; Avec Le Temps; I Know I Dream; La Rue Madureira; Mais Uma Vez; That’s All; The Changing Lights.

Personnel: Stacey Kent: vocals; Jim Tomlinson: saxophones, alto flute, percussion; Graham Harvey: piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboard; John Paricelli: guitars; Jeremy Brown: double bass; Joshua Morrison: drums; Curtis Schwartz: electric bass (4); Erika Matsuo: station announcement (4); Martin Burgess: violin; Amanda Smith: violin; George Salter: violin; Katie Stillman: violin; Lorraine McAslan: violin; John Mills: violin; Andrew Storey: violin; Richard Milone: violin; Paul Wiley: violin; Rob Bishop: violin; Jenny Godson: violin; Catherine Morgan: violin; Matthew Ward: violin; Jeremy Morris: violin; Clare Hayes: violin; Richard Blayden: violin; Richard George: violin; Alison Dods: violin; Susan Briscoe: violin; Takane Funatsu: violin; Fiona Bonds: viola; James Boyd: viola; Ian Rathbone: viola; Nick Barr: viola; Chian Lim: viola; Reiad Chibah: viola; Martin Loveday: cello; Nick Cooper: cello; Will Schofield: cello; Judith Herbert: cello; Juliet Welchman: cello; Julia Graham: cello; Vicky Matthews: cello; Chris Laurence: bass; Richard Pryce: bass; Lucy Shaw: bass; Eliza Marshall: flute; Sarah Newbold: flute; Patricia Moynihan: flute; Siobhan Grealy: flute; Holly Cook: flute; Jamie Talbot: clarinet, alto flute; Time Lines: clarinet; Tom Lessels: bass clarinet; Steve Morris: contrabass clarinet; John Thurgood: French horn; Corinne Bailey: French horn; Joanna Hensel: French horn; Andy Sutton: French horn; Sue Blair: harp; Adrian Bending: vibraphone, percussion.

Title: I Know I Dream | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Sony Music

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