Freda Payne, certainly best known for her 1970 pop hit “Band of Gold” and her 1971 anti-war anthem “Bring the Boys Home,” may be less well known for her work as a jazz singer. This is a crime. This is a woman with the kind of distinctive voice and creative style that can make a piece of music her own. That creativity is on view in her new album, Come Back To Me Love, her first for Artistry Music, due for a July 22 release.
Working with a big band complete with strings and arrangements by Grammy Award winner Bill Cunliffe, Payne winds her way through 14 tunes ranging from tried and true favorites to a half dozen original pieces from the pen of Gretchen Valade and Tom Robinson. So that she doesn’t ignore her “Band of Gold” fans she mixes in some pop numbers, but it is when she lets her creative imagination go to work on a song that the album is really something special.
The album’s first tune, “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” sets the tone, as she does a bit of scatting and brings new life to the hoary standard. Whether she’s duetting with Cunliffe’s piano on a feverish “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” or heating up the room with the dynamic blues of “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” she puts heart and soul into her music. You can hear it in her performance. She does a bang up job with the Lionel Hampton, Sonny Burke classic “Midnight Sun” and her “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” will dry the dampest eye.
Latin rhythms in tunes like “I Should Have Told Him” and “I Just Have to Know” show her versatility, but the Brazilian rhythms of “The Island,” with its powerful strings, offer a real change of pace with a big sound. Payne says the sounds of the Cunliffe’s “orchestration just enveloped and transfixed me… I was taken to another place and just went with it in my vocal.”
For those of us around when “Band of Gold” was a hit, Come Back To Me Love is a reminder of just how fine a vocalist Freda Payne is. For the youngsters, they have something to discover.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00K613ZDM]