Singer Stacey Kent continues to explore the Great American Songbook on her latest album “Tenderly” and adding some fine guitar touches by Brazilian legend Roberto Menescal to the mix. (She had worked with him on her “The Changing Lights” album.) Her subdued approach and tender, soft and sweet style seems to be perfect for classics like the opener “Only Trust Your Heart” or “There Will Never Be Another You”.
Add to this the supple tenor sax of her husband Jim Tomlinson and you have your pretty safe, pleasant and mostly beautiful set of a dozen songs. Never upsetting, very smooth and favorable. I have to admit I found myself thinking about Stacey doing something completely different as this is more or less based on the formula “never change a winning team”, but it just works so well and her interpretations are flawless, sometimes sublime. Her version of the title track is only topped by the Concord recording of the immortal Rosemary Clooney.
And the fact that Roberto is on the album on guitar does not mean that you get your typical, light Brazilian flavor on the tunes here. By contrast, this is more like Roberto getting into playing the standards. With one exception: “Agarradinhos”, by Roberto and Rosalia De Souza, where Stacey changes into the perfect Brazilian cantora.
Rounding out the band is bassist Jeremy Brown who can be heard on all but two tracks. Stacey has clearly found her own niche – she can handle French chansons, Bossa Nova, the great ballads from the Songbook, and she swings, like on “No Moon At All”. But the majority here is of the slower, gentler kind. And it still suits her tremendously well.
Stacey has two remaining concerts this year: she plays the Palladium in Warsaw on December 4th and the Théatre de Champs Elysées in Paris on December 12th. In January, she’ll be at Birdland in New York (19th-23rd) and from April to June, she is going to be on an extensive tour through France, the UK, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Lithuania.