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Amy Banks: When the Sun Comes Out

Dan McClenaghan By

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Vocalist Amy Banks' third CD, When the Sun Comes Out, spun into a jukebox mode for me. Put a quarter in, play your favorite tune. Back in the early sixties, it was noted that people would play the same song over and over again on these "boxes," a phenomenon that greatly influenced pop/rock radio programming of the day. The same songs—the recents hot hits—could be heard two, sometimes three times an hour on your favorite station.

My personal jukebox experience with Banks' set involved an hour-plus car trip, a brand new in-dash CD player, an errant finger unintentionally fumbling the stereo into the "repeat" mode, and freeway speed driving that made it unwise to attempt to read the owner's manual in order to fix the "problem." The results: listening to every song at least twice before hitting the forward button, and listening to the particular favorites more than twice... a jukebox playing the hits.

Banks has a rich-toned soprano voice with some Nancy Wilson shadings as she covers a couple of pop gems, some jazz standards, and one fine original tune. The lady gets inside a lyric. Michael McDonald's "It Keeps You Runnin'," arranged beautifully, features a cushioned bass bounce and piano sparkle behind her fluid vocal delivery. When Banks, singing about heartache, says "Oh, I know how you feel, yeah, you know I been there," you believe her.

Phoebe Snow's "Poetry Man" is given a similarly personal treatment. The tale of of a sultry vamp's school girl-like crush (Banks does sultry vamp very well) that's magic in the hands and vocal cords of Banks and Company. I loved the original, but I'd missed the O. Henry twist at the end. Banks makes it very clear when she sings to the object of her infatuation: "Home's that place you go, to see your wife." Throw in a yearing soprano sax solo (Tim Warfield) and you've got a true hit, played over and over again on the jukebox.

The standard "Devil May Care" gets a fittingly jaunty treatment, while the classic "I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)" feels, of course, wistful, but Banks' voice conveys an inner strength that says she'll survive, as it does on another song of longing, the classic Billie Holiday vehicle "Lover Man." Banks closes the show with Hoagy Carmichael's jewel, "Skylark," as a showcase for the singer's beautiful intonation in front of spare, understated (just piano and bass) accompaniment.

A set full of jukebox hits.


Track Listing: How High the Moon; Poetry Man; Devil May Care; When the Sun Comes Out; I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes); It Keeps You Runnin'; Foul Play; Ruined for the Rest; Lover Man; Skylark. Recorded July 13 & 14, 2004 at Skyline Productions, Warren, NJ. Released November 2, 2004.

Personnel: Steve Rudolph, piano; Allen Farnham, piano; Steve Varner, bass; Rich De Rosa, drums; Tim Warfield, saxophone; Tony Miceli, vibraphones.

Title: When the Sun Comes Out | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced


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