Stacey Kent ‘The Changing Light’ (Parlophone) 4/5

Stacey KentAmerican vocalist, but UK resident vocalist Stacey Kent has developed a specialist passion for the Brazilian-inspired songbook and this latest album is possibly her most accomplished set thus far in this vein. Her voice conjures up a modern day Blossom Dearie, but there is substance to the repertoire and Kent is accompanied by the fine tenor tones of Jim Tomlinson. Furthermore, Stacey Kent is increasingly confident singing in Portuguese and that is perfectly illustrated on her interpretations of Boscoli and Menscal’s ‘O Barquinho’ and Jobim and Mendonca’s ‘Samba de una nota só’, better known in English as ‘One note samba’.

Six original compositions have been co-written on this occasion by Kazuo Ishguro and Jom Tomlinson and compare favourably with the classic Brazilian songbook. Of the former, the lilting ‘The summer we crossed Europe in the rain’ is an outstanding song with lovely guitar from Paricelli contributing and providing a powerful counterfoil to Kent’s cool school delivery. The title track
is a moody affair in which Kent reminisces about a journey in New York. Her soft delivery is ideally suited to Brazilian material such as the guitar and piano intro to ‘How insensitive’ and ‘Mais uma vez’, which takes a leaf out of the Joao Gilberto approach to vocalising. A UK tour is already well underway with further dates in October including a residency at Ronnie Scotts.

Tim Stenhouse