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Valerie Joyce is a newcomer to the Seattle music scene, and with her debut release, Reverie, she has succeeded in making a lasting first impression. Haunting and breathy, earthy and ethereal—such oxymoronic descriptors come to mind when attempting to characterize her voice. Certainly, some listeners will dismiss her vocal style as alien and unattractive. But others will no doubt find that Ms. Joyce’s unorthodox tone and curious delivery tempt their imagination, like would- be faces in the shadows, and ultimately challenge their concept of what a “good” voice should sound like. In this way Reverie cuts, rather refreshingly, to the heart of the art form.
She takes these 11 songs, roughly half of which are standards, at slow to moderate tempo. Of the latter, Jobim’s “Once I Loved” becomes an ideal vehicle for Ms. Joyce’s dark, whispery vocal. Yet, she is most beguiling when singing her original lyrics on “Oasis,” “Silent Sky” (an adaptation of a Brahms intermezzi) and “Orchid” —mystical words suited to her mystical voice.
A local cast of sidemen, including Milo Petersen, Joshua Wolff, Paul Gabrielson, Jay Thomas and Phil Sparks provide a strong foundation for Ms. Joyce’s admirable first recording. Big-time record execs searching for the next Norah Jones—are you listening?
Track Listing: 1. East of the Sun
3. Autumn In New York
4. Silent Sky
5. Moon and Sand
7. Once I Loved
8. Indian Summer
9. The Shadow Of Your Smile
10. Christmas Eve
11. April In Paris
Personnel: Valerie Joyce, vocals; Michael Wolff, piano; Badal Roy, tablas; Valtinho Anastacio, percussion;
Victor Jones, drums; John B. Williams and Mike Richmond, Bass; Alex Foster and Dan Jordan,
saxophones and flute.