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Stacey Kent: The Changing Lights

Dan Bilawsky By

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Stacey Kent's voice operates at the intersection of knowingness and innocence. She delivers every song with finesse, balancing a sense of wide-eyed wonderment with soft-handed confidence. Perhaps that's why she's been able to build such an enormous fan base since starting her singing career and showing up on listener's radars near the turn of the century.

Kent came from New York and used England as a launching pad for her talent(s), but her art carries several passports. Her comfort and ease with English, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German allows her to travel easily between worlds. The first three languages on that list all figure into this fetching collection of music that's tied to Brazil.

The Changing Lights finds Kent fully immersed in the waters of the bossa nova. She sings old favorites, nodding to usual suspects like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Roberto Menescal, but she also delivers a handful of new numbers co-written by one of several lyricists and her husband—saxophonist/composer/producer/arranger Jim Tomlinson. Together, Kent and Tomlinson manage to merge worlds, combining veiled complexity, stripped-to-the-core simplicity, and modern day production values. They create something that's both timely and timeless.

Songs that are part of the fabric of Brazilian music history, such as "One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So)," "O Barquinho," and "How Insensitive," are delivered with the appropriate sentiment(s), yet a light glaze of warmth hangs on them, like dew drifting in the morning air. Then there are the originals. Pieces like the title track, which benefit from John Parricelli's guitar refractions, a slight studio-crafted glow, and Kent's ability to look at a song from multiple dimensions and realms.

Everybody knows that gale force winds can knock things down, but Stacey Kent is one of few who can bowl people over with nothing more than a gentle stream of thoughts, words, and notes. She's done it before, and she does it again on The Changing Lights.

Track Listing: This Happy Madness; The Summer We Crossed Europe In The Rain; One Note Samba; Mais Uma Vez; Waiter, Oh Waiter; O Barquinho; The Changing Lights; How Insensitive; O Bêbado E A Equilibrista / Smile; Like A Lover; The Face I Love; A Tarde; Chanson Légère.

Personnel: Stacey Kent: vocals, guitar (8); Jim Tomlinson: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Graham Harvey: piano, Fender Rhodes; Jeremy Brown: double bass; Roberto Mensecal: guitar (6, 12); John Parricelli: guitar (2-5, 10, 13); Matt Home: drums (1, 7, 8, 11); Joshua Morrison: drums (2-5, 10, 13); Raymundo Bittencourt: ganza (6).

Title: The Changing Lights | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Warner Jazz

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