Operatic soprano Alyson Cambridge’s Until Now (released January 8, 2016) has the powerful vocalist shifting gears from the classical repertoire to explore some of the more pop musical genres. In a 13-song album that could well serve as a supper club set, Cambridge, a singer who has graced the stages of opera houses like The Met and London’s Royal Albert Hall, makes clear that she has the range certainly to crossover to the Broadway stage and maybe even a smoky jazz room.
As she says in her liner notes: “My hope for the album has always been to give an eclectic and thoughtful representation of me, in a range of non-operatic musical tastes, influences and vocalism. It truly is a side of me and my voice that I have never shared until now.” For the most part she has chosen songs that have special meaning for her. And while most of them allow her to show her range effectively, there are a few (like “Fever,” which opens the album) that are less well served by the beauty of her voice, songs which could use more grit and less perfection. “Bill” from Showboat, on the other hand, shows Cambridge at the top of her game.
The album includes classics like “Night and Day,” “The Man I Love” (complete with verse), and “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and pop pieces like the covers of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” and Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last,” which appropriately closes the album. There is a steamy version of “Too Darn Hot” and a very effective sultry blues take on “I Had Myself a True Love.” “Just Another Rhumba” and a catchy arrangement of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” provide some novelty relief, and she does a unique take on the old Elvis Presley hit, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
All in all, if, as Cambridge concludes her liner notes, the album “feels like just the beginning of a new musical and performance journey,” it is a journey worth taking—worth taking just so long as she doesn’t forget Puccini. Check out her “Vissi d’arte.”