Rebecca Ferguson – Lady Sings The Blues
The 28 year old singer from Liverpool entered the X Factor castings in 2010 and ended up second-best. She released her first album “Heaven” in 2011 and the sophomore album “Freedom” two years later. Now she’s back again with her third opus, this time around a tribute to the great Billie Holiday, of which there will be several more this year since the legendary singer was born 100 years ago.
Rebecca is backed here by a full orchestra and by several top-notch players like Jason Rebello or Tamir Hendelman on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass, or Ricky Woodard on tenor sax. The album has a glowing, foot-tapping start with the Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler classic “Get Happy” and Rebecca’s voice is a very soulful, appealing, and unagitated one with a special flavor in the higher registers. She can sound like a little child like in the opening to “Blue Moon”, and then again can belt out Gershwin’s “Summertime”.
She sounds best in the more soulful arrangements, like on the Jimmy van Heusen/Johnny Mercer standard “I Thought About You” where her little vibrato is also having a short appearance. Or on the tambourine-operated, hand-clapped supported “What Is This Thing Called Love”. Albums like these are always a bit risky I think because with classic songs like those represented here (17 in total), I invariably compare the interpretations to the millions of others which came before. And other songs have simply been done to death, like “All Of Me” which is the only song here where Rebecca is backed by trio only. There are also some unsettling moments or little affectations like in “Don’t Explain” which otherwise has some sexy background vocal arrangement. And with the upbeat, jazzy “My Man” where she plays the wicked siren, this mixed bag ends on a neat note.