Antoinette - Verbal Crush - 2008 - Pyramid Records
Verbal Crush. Firstly, I like the title, secondly I like the vocalist. Twelve love songs - the verbal crush I presume, delivered in a mix of standards and new songs. As readers are aware I have a pathological dislike to cover versions. They, to me, are a real annoyance and I throw my hands up wondering where on earth originality has gone. Thankfully, as well as new compositions, Antoinette has taken a few standards and really, really done something different - and on one occasion, downright radical - with them. I desire NEW material. Where are tomorrow's classics and tomorrow's standards if we don't think new today? Antoinette is probably more than aware of this and has delivered a set that accepts the current climate for safety and has taken the well-trodden path...but with some essential detours! If you want a radical working of an old Gershwin tune - "Summertime" on this occasion - then look no further. What's been done here is almost perverse. And I like it. This is a punchy dance tune, fit for the Clubs and although not House music as such could fall into that bag quite nicely. Groups such as Degrees Of Motion would not be far from my mind when I hear stuff like this. This works very well, and I take my hat off to her for pulling the concept of the song apart and presenting it in an exciting, fresh and out-of-the-ballpark fashion.I guess this won't be everyone's cup of tea, and that's good too. Her reading of Dionne Warwick's "Déja Vu" is pretty much on the money and the vocal styling is, I'm sure. set with Dionne very much in mind - the hesitancy, the musing and the deliberate melancholy are not missed by these ears. Of the new material, I really have to commend "Where Do We Go From Here". This is a Norman Connors production and boy can't you tell! This duet with Howard Hewet is pure knockout and the atmosphere that Connors sets it is will put you in soulful meltdown mode. Incidentally, this appears on his new, very lacklustre, effort for Shanachie and is by far the best track on that album. So here it is for your enjoyment on this album! Essential. I have to say that I am sure that this is the first time I have heard a female singer tackle Hall and Oatts' "Sara Smile". I may be wrong, but this is different and, again, I think it works very well. I recently reviewed Juanita Dailey's "Free" album for the 90s segment of this website, and on that CD you will find a cut called "Special My Love". Connors revisits that song here and reworks it. I have to say that although it's goo, it does not match the original, though that p[articular bar was a very high one indeed. Jobim's "So Insensitive" adds a Latin diversion, and I really do applaud the Nick Martinelli written "My Love Is All That". A track that would have graced any early Regina Belle album with grace and style. A classy end to a classy CD. This is, at time of writing, available only from Antoinette's website, http://www.antoinettesings.com/.