All it takes is a glance at the cover photo of Lyn Stanley’s debut album Lost in Romance to get the message. In atmospheric black-and-white, the beautiful singer is posed atop a piano, gazing longingly into the distance. It is a picture that could have graced an album more than a half century ago. It is a nostalgic nod to another time, an era long gone. Listen to her sing and you’re back in the day of a Peggy Lee or a Rosemary Clooney.
It’s not necessarily in her choice of material. Although the album’s 15 tracks are tilted to the standards, she does include some more modern (if not quite contemporary) work with tunes by George Harrison and Stephen Sondheim, and even something brand new with the rocking “What Am I Gonna Do With a Bad Boy Like You.” Old songs or new, this is an album devoted to affairs of the heart with a retro touch.
An accomplished ballroom dancer, in 2010 Stanley was a USA Pro/Am Champion. She made her singing debut in February of 2011 with Paul Smith and his trio at a club in Southern California. Since then she has honed her craft, performing to enthusiastic audiences throughout the area. And though the bins are filled with albums from new singers, the time to test the waters was at hand. Listening to Lost in Romance, all you can say is, “Come on in, Lyn. The water’s fine.”
Arrangements emphasize the singer’s rhythmic dance associations as well as the ancestry of jazz in dance. She is accompanied by a varied roster of L.A. musicians, usually with one or at most two soloists working with her rhythm section. The spotlight is always where it ought to be, on the sultry blond sitting on that piano.
The album begins with a dance, Irving Berlin’s “Changing Partners,” and ends fittingly with “The Last Dance.” It is the narrative of a love affair running a predictable course. Between the beginning and the end, there are all the emotions—pleasant and unpleasant—that come with the territory. First there is the heat of attraction developed in her own interpretation of the Peggy Lee hit “Fever.” It swings upbeat with the classic “That Old Black Magic” and more intimately with “The Nearness of You.” In both she is aided by the saxophone work of Bob Sheppard.
“I Just Want to Make Love to You” gives the singer a chance to show some of her blues chops, preparatory to a turning point in the affair. “My Foolish Heart” makes clear the direction the change is likely to take. The change is solidified in her versions of “Losing My Mind” and “One For My Baby,” both with some creative piano lines from Mike Lang. The movement to the last dance is inevitable.
Just as each song tells its own story, each is a part of the larger story. And if there is one thing Lyn Stanley has shown in this debut, it is clearly that this is one singer who knows how to tell her tale.