How to categorize singer Stevie Holland? She represents an amalgamation of various genres: jazz, cabaret, pop, and Broadway musicals. Her warm, deep voice has earned her acclaim in jazz circles, and she continues exploring that world in her latest release, Before Love Has Gone.
Holland specializes in singing more obscure selections from the Great American Songbook, and her latest CD is no exception to this rule. Beginning with Vincent Yourman's “Carioca” (most notable for providing accompaniment to Fred Astaire's and Ginger Rogers' first dance on celluloid in 1933's Flying Down to Rio—see Wikipedia) and continuing with “Here's to Your Illusions,” a Sammy Fain and Yip Harburg composition from 1951's Broadway show Flahooley, it is evident that Holland wishes to pay tribute to lesser-known compositions.
Highlights include her interpretation of “Make Our Garden Grow,” a lovely Richard Wilbur/Leonard Bernstein tune from Candide. Her reading of Irving Berlin's classic “How Deep Is the Ocean,” accompanied only by Martin Bejerano on piano, evokes the unabashed romanticism of the lyrics.
Showing her equal allegiance to pop, she also covers Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman's “Riverboat Gambler,” which seems out of place when compared to the CD's other songs. An obscure Simon track off her 1976 LP Another Passenger, it perfectly suits Holland's lower register and seemingly effortless vocal style. Holland and Simon should collaborate on a project in the future. “I can see through all that debonair style/The irony bending your smile,” Holland croons, but ultimately “I want to stay near you/I want you to win.” Her low voice lends a world-weary aspect to these lyrics, which perfectly fits the overall tone.