At most times when an artist chooses to record an entire project of covers their song choices are usually scrutinized. This is especially true when their work is unproven on a national level. Yet, this notion certainly did not deter jazz chanteuse Kat Webb from recording a debut reflective of her eclectic tastes in contemporary and classic pop, R&B and jazz. After spending a few years singing background, songwriting and as an audio engineer, this self-declared quasi-Hippie vocalist decided to honor many of her childhood heroes like Mahalia, Ella and Aretha, along with legendary composers Burt Bacharach, Duke Ellington and John Lennon.
Webb proclaims her self-released debut, An Old Soul, as an avenue for fans to know her musically and personally. She is deeply proud of how all the details behind An Old Soul captures recording in the old-fashioned way, from choosing analog over digital engineering to the completely live performance vibe.
Webb begins An Old Soul with a bluesy swagger for “Come Sunday,” the Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn composition covered by Cannonball Adderly and Mahalia Jackson with Ellington’s Orchestra. One of the most coveted jazz classics, another Ellington & Strayhorn creation “Lush Life,” showcases Webb’s melancholy approach. Webb sprinkles some sass on Al Green’s southern soul signature classic, “I’m Still in Love with You.” Her ability to flex some swing is evident on the Frank Sinatra classic, “All or Nothing At All.” The absolute highlight on An Old Soul is The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” where Webb’s turns on the vocal jets, climaxed by a hypnotizing duet with saxophonist Ezra Brown.
While An Old Soul is a commendable idea, the overall song choices and arrangements are a mixed bag. The shining moments are Webb’s admirable and pleasing interpretations on the aforementioned tracks. The glaring misses lie in the track sequencing (i.e., the Motown classic “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” followed by the lounge pop of “Wives & Lovers”) and when Webb’s voice is slight disengaged (“Cry Me A River,” “Walk on By”) and on Chris Rob’s underwhelming arrangements (“Fever,” “Until You Come Back to Me”). Though An Old Soul is an overall average effort, this by no means minimizes Webb’s sincere passion to resurrect some pop, R&B and jazz treasures.
Vocals: 2.5 stars
Music: 2.5 stars
Lyrics: 4.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Modestly Recommended
By Peggy Oliver