Monday, July 16, 2018

Rebecca Angel: “What We Had” (2018) CD Review

I first heard vocalist Rebecca Angel a few years ago when she released a holiday single written by her father, “My Favorite Time Of The Year.” She followed that a year later with “Jet Samba,” the first time that song had been recorded with vocals. Now she has released a new CD that includes a mix of original material and covers, including two versions of “Jet Samba.” Her voice often has a light, airy quality, which works to raise our spirits and make the world seem a bit better than it is.

This CD opens with an unusual cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Winter Moon,” featuring some nice work on percussion by Mino Cinelu. And I really like what Hailey Niswanger is doing on soprano saxophone, giving the track both an easygoing vibe and moments of excitement. But of course the focus here is Rebecca Angel’s vocals, her voice smooth and enchanting, leading us into a dreamlike world. That’s followed by the CD’s title track, “What We Had.” This is an original song, written by Dennis Angel and Rebecca Angel, and it is my personal favorite on this disc. Something about this one makes me smile the moment it begins, with that cool groove. And Rebecca’s voice has a cheerful quality at times, wistful at other times as she looks back. “I see the leaves falling down/And darker days coming round/I close my eyes and see you.  And I love that section near the end with the different layers to the vocals, sounds so good. There is also some nice work on guitar by Christian Ver Halen. “Days without you/I just don’t know what to do.”

Then “Agora Sim” has even more of a playful, light quality, Rebecca Angel’s voice working as a pretty, delightful instrument. Ricardo Silveira and Jonah Miles Prendergast play guitar on this track, and Sebastian Stoger is on cello. This song feels perfect for summer. Then “Feel Alive” begins the same way; that is, with vocals but no lyrics. This one, however, does have lyrics. This is another original track, written by Dennis Angel and Rebecca Angel, but isn’t quite as good as “What We Had.” This one is a bit cheesy. Still, it has a good groove, with Brian Dunne on drums and Cyro Baptista on percussion.

Rebecca Angel delivers two versions of “Stand By Me,” the Ben E. King hit written by King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The first is a radio mix. While it doesn’t have as organic a feel as the original, it does feature a good and honest vocal performance by Rebecca, and some nice touches on guitar by Jonah Miles Prendergast. Her take on it includes some vocal play in the second half, which is pretty. The second version is the electro remix, and – as you’d expect – the track’s less real elements are stressed. It is interesting to hear the contrast between her youthful, light vocals and the electronic sounds supporting that voice. I prefer the first version. This disc also includes two versions of “Jet Samba,” the song that was released as a single in 2016. The first version, the radio mix, is fun and bright and energetic. It’s a track that should bring a smile to your face, and perhaps some movement to your feet. Then the Ipanema remix is more of a dance version, the percussion more prominent and full. This version has a cool section halfway through in which she calls out names, such as Marcos Valle and Sergio Mendes. Both versions are totally enjoyable.

CD Track List
  1. Winter Moon
  2. What We Had
  3. Agora Sim
  4. Feel Alive
  5. Stand By Me (Radio Mix)
  6. Jet Samba (Radio Mix)
  7. Stand By Me (Electro Remix)
  8. Jet Samba (Ipanema Remix)
What We Had was released on June 1, 2018 on Timeless Grooves Records.

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