Veteran New Yorker Carol Fredette ends a ten-year absence from the studio with a sparkling collection of jazz and cabaret classics with a thoroughly adult perspective.
Fredette, like the late Susannah McCorkle, brings a blend of world-weary resignation tempered by a sly spark of optimism to a program that includes some familiar tunes (“Last Night When We Were Young,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and “A Fine Romance”) and lesser-known gems from Tin Pan Alley.
Fredette is a storyteller first and foremost, and here she gets superb support from long-time collaborator and arranger David Finke (bass) and a first-rate group of Brazil-by-way-of-New York musicians. Arrangements are carefully calculated to provide each song with the aural equivalent of a clean, fresh page, and Fredette responds with clearly articulated explorations of love in all its facets, revealing a rare depth of womanly wisdom in the process.
Hers may not be a national name, but Fredette is an absolutely sublime singer, a musician’s vocalist who employs her voice much like an instrument, with subtle phrasing that at times sounds like the human equivalent of a saxophone. She’s playful and gently boisterous on upbeat numbers, and the bittersweet melancholy she brings to ballads is simply gorgeous. Hers is a voice of experience, of one who knows that love comes and goes but retains an incurable streak of optimism and an unshakable faith that romance will indeed return.
Songs like those included here require a bit of living to deliver convincingly, and one hears echoes of Fredette’s own loves, both lost and found, in every line she sings. Her heart’s on her sleeve, as it should be, and the result is a warm and wonderful collection.