It's hard to believe that Let Him Hear My Heart is a debut effort. More on that later...
Deborah Resto charms with an emotive and sensual vocal style, by turns sultry and kittenish, her intonations wrapped in Latin rhythms and flawlessly intricate, smooth, contemporary arrangements. The word "smooth" can be used – among the harder line mainstream or avant-garde jazz fans – as a disparagement. Not so here. Every arrangement on this CD is lush and intricate and multi-faceted, each section of the sonic puzzle fitting togther like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. The knock from many jazz fans derides these contemporary arrangements as ham-fisted and over-sweetened washes of noise meant to camouflage mediocre talent. Again, not here, not by a New York mile.
The arrangements on Let Him Hear My Heart are a manisfestation of fine and meticulous craftsmanship and immense talent. The vocalist has a hand in six of the ten arrangements here, a seamless mix of horns and string washes and Latin grooves; and when Resto isn't putting the charts together, Renee Leyva is, on the cool percolations of "Gracias" and "Lejos," the most percussive and most "Latin" sounding tunes on the disc.
The disc's liner notes compare Resto's singing to Nancy Wilson's, and that seems fair and accurate, but I hear at times a hint of the deeper, richer tones of Marilyn McCoo.
Now back to the hard-to-believe-it's-a-debut theme: Norah Jones is mentioned in the liner notes in comparison with Ms. Resto. Jones is a talented young singer, but it's pretty obvious that she falls into the "developing artist" category, someone who is being handled well by some very astute music business people. And more power to her. Deborah Resto, on the other hand, has emerged on this debut disc as a fully-formed artist: she arranged or co-arranged most of the songs; and she also wrote or co-wrote eight of the ten tunes – all very melodic, approachable, hit-worthy offerings, especially the title cut. It would be a crying shame if "Let Him Hear My Heart" can't find a place on a radio format somewhere – adult contemporary, smooth jazz, Latin sounds.
This is a finely-crafted piece of art, and guess who produced it? I'll give you a hint: her initials stand for Deborah Resto. You won't find many debut efforts this good.