Amel Larrieux - Lovely Standards (2007)

Amel Larrieux
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Amel Larrieux is the kind of entertainer with a  vocal style that can not be categorized.  The former lead singer of Groove Theory has done everything from R&B and soul to hip-hop and folk.  On her fourth solo endeavor, Lovely Standards, Amel again steps out the box with perhaps her most intimate project to date. 

The 10-track disc opens with "If I Were a Bell," which has a very Thelonious Monk-type feeling to it.  Listening to this cut, you get the sense that pianist Yakir Benhur channeled the spirit of the late, great Monk while Amel's honey-coated vocals takes you to a time and place when straight-ahead jazz dominated the music scene.  "Try Your Wings" is so smooth that if  you closed your eyes and concentrated on the music, you could swear you were transported to Harlem circa mid-1940s.
Amel Larrieux is the kind of entertainer with a  vocal style that can not be categorized.  The former lead singer of Groove Theory has done everything from R&B and soul to hip-hop and folk.  On her fourth solo endeavor, Lovely Standards, Amel again steps out the box with perhaps her most intimate project to date. 

The 10-track disc opens with "If I Were a Bell," which has a very Thelonious Monk-type feeling to it.  Listening to this cut, you get the sense that pianist Yakir Benhur channeled the spirit of the late, great Monk while Amel's honey-coated vocals takes you to a time and place when straight-ahead jazz dominated the music scene.  "Try Your Wings" is so smooth that if  you closed your eyes and concentrated on the music, you could swear you were transported to Harlem circa mid-1940s.

With production from her husband and musical collaborator Laru Larrieux, the Rodgers and Hammerstein composition  "Something Wonderful"  is given  a new, fresh spin.  "If I Loved You" is so profound that it captivates you from beginning to end.  Closing out the album is  Edward Kennedy Ellington's  "I Like the Sunrise," on which Amel sounds so rich and pure against a backdrop of superb musicians that it would make "Sir Duke" more than proud.

Amel Larrieux continues to march to the beat of her own drum.  As she forges her path and shatters stereotypes along the way, it won't be long before we hear a foreign language project or her moving in the direction of a different musical genre.

By Christopher Whaley
 
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