Vocalist Gemma Sherry's fourth album, Music to Dream To, recorded in July 2020, closely follows her third, Let's Get Serious, released less than a year earlier. This latest album expresses Sherry's love for the music of South America in general and Brazilian bossa nova in particular, with half a dozen engaging songs that sway to an irresistible bossa (or samba) beat. Two numbers"The Telephone Song" and "Keep Talking"are repeated ("acoustic version," the track listing points out), and even counting the duplicates, the album's total playing time is only twenty-nine minutes. So that is something to keep in mind. Let's Get Serious is a tad more generous: eleven songs (no repeats) and a playing time of forty-five minutes.
Sherry's voice may best be described as childlike and carefree. There are touches of Blossom Dearie (indeed, the first number on Let's Get Serious is "Blossom's Blues") but Sherry has developed her own personal style, one that may resemble Dearie but is not defined by that. She has a healthy respect for a lyric, seldom wandering far afield, although her articulation on the faster numbers is sometimes less than crystal clear. That is a small quibble, as Sherry fares rather well on tongue- twisters such as "The Telephone Song," "Bim Bom" and "The Coffee Song" (credited to Frank Sinatra who introduced the paean to Brazil's leading export in 1946 but didn't write it that was Bob Hilliard and Dick Miles)even though "savor" on that number becomes "savior."
Speaking of lyrics, Sherry does commit another oopsy-daisy on "Whatever Lola Wants" (from the Broadway musical Damn Yankees), singing in the opening verse "my heart and soul is what I came for..." (correcting it later to "your heart and soul," as written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross). That is one of the eleven themes on Let's Get Serious, most of which are bright-colored and well-suited to Sherry's sunny style. She bows to Peggy Lee on "Why Don't You Do Right," and Nat King Cole on "Straighten Up and Fly Right." Of special interest are a trio of too-seldom-heard gems: "Give Me the Simple Life," "The Gentleman Is a Dope" and Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh's clever "Doodlin' Song," which kindles memories of the Judy Holliday classic, "Drop That Name," from Broadway's Bells Are Ringing.
A word should be said about Sherry's supporting cast, and the word is exemplary. The quintet, which consists of pianist Rick Germanson, guitarist Paul Bollenback, vibraphonist Joseph Doubleday, bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer George Coleman Jr., is always on its toes and eager to broaden Sherry's comfort zone. While she may not be everyone's cup of tea, those who are seeking something fresh and surprising in a world of look-alikes and sound- alikes may find Gemma Sherry special enough to entice the ear and quicken the heart.
Keep Talking, Bim Bom, So Danco Samba, The Telephone Song, The Coffee Song, Chove Chuva, Keep
Talking (Acoustic Version), The Telephone Song (Acoustic Version)
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