Renee Olstead - Skylark

2009-07-31 11:39
 
Skylark
 

From the first note of "Midnight Man" to the last bar of "Nothing But the Blame" the listener is transported back in time to an era of Bogart, bourbon and velvet.

Her voice is silky smooth on romantic love ballads such as "Hold Me Now" and Nat King Cole's "When I Fall In Love". She also shifts easily into energetic and upbeat numbers like "Midnight In Austin Texas" and a sassy rendition of Ray Charles' swinging "Hit The Road Jack". So she fancies herself as much a rebel rousing party girl as a sweet song siren?

Not quite. Olstead predominantly pays homage to Great American Songbook interpreters who have come before her like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Natalie Cole. Intimidating as it may seem to cover such timeless material she does it with signature panache, style and of course that gorgeous voice. Her rendition of "My Baby Just Cares For Me", the classic popularised by Nina Simone, has a real Broadway show tune quality and flair. From there, she glides down a notch into the simply intoxicating "When I Fall In Love" (with trumpeter Chris Botti), her words sensuously sliding out as they articulate every woman’s wistful dream.

The original work co-written with standards pop svengali David Foster shows she has talent to create as well as interpret. The mellow and light "Hold Me Now" especially, stands out, showcasing Olstead's ability to linger over the phrasing of her lyrics to draw you into her musical landscape. In a more blues bent tradition comes "Midnight In Austin Texas", a freewheeling swing collaboration with top slide guitarist Robert Randolph that evokes one of those boozy bar top dancing roadhouse scenes.


20-something songbird Renee Olstead moves effortlessly between jazz and blues, slow and quick, sassy and sensitive, on this gem of an album.

What to read next: Kalahari

trevor 2009/08/03 9:08 AM
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She is a rosebud on a carnation stem. No thorns absolutely no thorns.
Daniel Reddie 2009/08/03 10:29 PM
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Absolutely stunning album, she can only get better, a voice like liquid, definately a plus in any collection of good smooth jazz.
preshen govender 2009/08/04 8:51 AM
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She is like a fat version of miley cyrus
jBill 2009/10/21 7:24 AM
All this little gal has to is keep singing the way she does and she is going all the way to the top. When you combine the overpowering beauty of this little gal with her off the scale singing talent, ....no question... this girl is THE COMING THING
bilbo 2010/04/18 10:48 AM
I'm watching her career take off. What can you say when someone can sing like this and is beautiful on top of it?
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