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Album Review

Matt Barber: The Song Is You


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Matt Barber: The Song Is You
Matt Barber is a pretty good singer: pleasant voice, decent range, fair sense of swing, healthy respect for a lyric. On his seventh album, The Song Is You, Barber has chosen to revisit a number of evergreens from the Great American Songbook and placed himself in a variety of musical settings designed to enhance the experience.

A couple of those songs ("Oh! Look at Me Now," "You Make Me Feel So Young") were closely associated with the great Frank Sinatra, and while Barber sings them well enough, he clearly suffers by comparison—as would anyone else. Even though stronger, his voice is closer to Chet Baker than to Sinatra who owned both songs and still does. The comparison is of course unfair, as there was only one Sinatra, and Barber does the best he can to land within crooning range of the master.

The point, as noted earlier, is that Barber is a pretty good singer. Just don't expect anything approaching Sinatra, Dean Martin or even Bobby Darin, each of whom brought to bear the kind of singularity and charisma that may be impossible to measure but is nonetheless indispensable when it comes to separating the exceptional from the merely competent. Barber sings a dozen songs, and sings them well. That he doesn't come close to Sinatra, Martin, Darin or Tony Bennett says more about their consummate artistry than it does Barber's earnest attempt to recreate their brilliance.

Barber's choice of material is by and large admirable, especially the standards ("The Song Is You," "East of the Sun," "Almost Like Being in Love," "I Remember You," "All the Things You Are," "Moon River"). Ron Miller's "For Once in My Life" and Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" are a step or so lower on the noteworthy scale but a grade or two above Rebecca Sugar's unimpressive "Love Like You" or Barber and Day Kelly's phlegmatic finale, "Moments in Time."

Barber's splendid supporting cast includes trumpeter Tony Guerrero ("East of the Sun," "I Remember You"), guitarist Dori Amarilio ("I Remember You," "Just the Way You Are"), saxophonist Mack Goldsbury and pianists Bradley Young (who died before the album was released and to whose memory it is dedicated) and Marc LeBrun. The Song Is You is a pretty good album by a pretty good singer, as talented as most others you'll hear these days. For some, that may be plenty good enough.

Track Listing

Oh! Look at Me Now; The Song Is You; Almost Like Being in Love; I Remember You; You Make Me Feel So Young; All the Things You Are; Love Like You; Just the Way You Are; For Once in My Life; Moon River; Moments in Time.


Matt Barber: voice / vocals; Bradley Young: piano; Marc LeBrun: keyboards; David Enos: bass, acoustic; Brian Ward: bass; Greg Sadler: drums; Tony Guerrero: flugelhorn; Dori Amarilio: arranger; Mack Goldsbury: saxophone, tenor; Pablo Suñé: guitar; Stephan Oberhoff: piano; Madison Hardy: voice / vocals; Day Kelly: piano; Barry Rigby: bass; Daniel Dennis: drums.

Album information

Title: The Song Is You | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced

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