It all bespeaks a bygone age, from the black & white cover to her accompanist’s tuxedo. With rich voice and twinkling intonation, yesterday’s pop songs become art music – with a minimum of frills. What you get is a trio, some familiar friends (most known but not overdone), and her voice. The words sink in when she sings them – and then they’re not just words but a rush of feelings. Yes, it’s simple – and it’s all you need.
The sound is what you’d expect – that is to say, classic. Sinuous bass rumbles over slow brushes. The piano is warm but not overly lush – and understated sound that hugs its employer. Peggy rings high, with vibrato on the ballads, sass on the swingers. The first sign is “Rainy Day” – a happy voice with doubt on the edges. Her acting is subtle: you know her emotion, not from her sobs but the way she says “about”. Stefan Schatz hits the samba beat, and the air is full of sweet sadness. Time stands still on “When Sunny Gets Blue” – the band is there but all you hear is that voice and those wonderful words (how she says “kiss”!) And things get really happy on “This Can’t Be Love” – Andrew Hall pounds the bass when Peggy sings “hear it beat!” That’s it – we’re in the mood.
The passion burns on “That Old Feeling”, Vincent Jacqz stoking it with a very tender solo. “Blue Skies” starts ominous, thundering toms and raining cymbals. A tough riff keeps the mood somber; Peggy, at the bottom of her range, starts timid and blossoms on the bridge. Jacquz is bright on his solo, and things get happy when Peggy returns. Moody joy, as a lot of these are. That is the perfect description for “Dance of Love”, the lone original. Jacquz’ tune is a stately waltz, with hints of “But Beautiful”. Peggy’s lyric has indecision – and hope: “Is it a dance of love that makes me want you so?/ I’ll never know; don’t speak/ Please sweep me off my feet/ Just let our two hearts meet.” It has the ring of the old songs; in a more romantic age it might have become a standard. Peggy is anxious, leaping on words as Jacqz answers. A highlight, and a major reason to buy the album. It might be all the reason you ned.
“Love for Sale” is broadly theatrical, a tired plaint from one who knows. She’s catty on “Let the poets pipe of love”, she pleads “who will buy?”, and says “climb the stairs” in a voice that’s pure “come hither”. The Latin beat helps, and the song’s meaning was never so clear. “How Deep is the Ocean” is cast as a ballad, despair shining through the happy words. It sounds like her love is away; the backing is spare, and keeps its distance. The rain falls, but not for long; “Trust Your Heart” comes in as a bossa, with plenty of breeze. The piano smiles, and Peggy takes the number by storm, with a lilt in her voice and a slide to her phrases. At last true love – after the sadness, she’s earned it. It’s a happy ending to a set filled with class, tradition, and deep emotion.