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Music Review: Sundae + Mr. Goessl – ‘When You’re Smiling’

Sundae + Mr. Goessl’s latest studio album, When You’re Smiling, is a fantasy-filled collection of 15 songs that range from 1921 to the present day. Vocalist Kate Voss and guitarist Jason Goessl infuse interesting accents into the classic arrangements, from his chiming glockenspiel to her squeeze-box sounding melodica. From dance tunes to singalong favorites, the release is stacked in enjoyable music.

The Hawaiian folk tint of “Bye Bye Birdie” is fostered by Adrian Van Batenburg’s snare drum. The sleek strumming of the guitar enhances the ambience. Voss’ vocal nuances impel a coquettish lilt reminiscent of Regina Spektor. Her handling of the scat verses along “If the Stars Were Mine” has a natural flow. The singalong tune was written in 2016 by Melody Gardot.

The couple also covers vintage tunes. Ragtime favorites like George and Ira Gershwin’s classic novelty “S’Wonderful” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” are brimming with a modern glint. The straight-ahead jazz standard “My Blue Heaven” is trellised in the neatly groomed compression of the melodica. The duo’s interpretation of Gordon Jenkins’ 1953 classic tune “Crescent City Blues” is garbed in smooth blues atmospherics with a moseying-along rhythm.

The duo’s rendition of “Embraceable You” is treated with pliable vocals accompanied by a lethargic stride in the guitar riff. Likewise, “The Best Is Yet to come” is a sparse arrangement with vocals and guitar. The snare drums are faint in the background. Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” has more meat on it, stacked in roving guitar chords with a western swing-twang. The twizzling sounds of Voss’ melodica are the icing on the track.

Their reworking of Cher’s signature tune “Bang Bang,” written by Sony Bono, is slow and reflective, allowing the listener to mull over each lyric. Voss gives the impression that she is singing the uplifting melody in “A Love I Can’t Explain” with a broad smile on her face. The song was written in 2017 by Birch Pereira, though the performance would lead audiences to believe it’s a standard from the American Songbook. Voss carries this impression of smiling while she’s singing through “A Wink and a Smile.” The song was originally sung by Harry Connick, Jr. and written for the film Sleepless in Seattle.

Sundae + Mr. Goessl are Seattle’s premier vintage jazz duo, comprised of Earshot Magazine’s Vocalist of the Year, Kate Voss, and Seattle-based guitarist, Jason Goessl. Their reimagination of other artists’ works takes listeners along fantasy-filled jaunts, packed with nostalgia and charming soundscapes. The celebrated newlyweds have been providing entertainment to audiences since 2014. Their treasure chest contains four albums, six national tours, two sponsorships, and over 500 shows.

Musicians:

Kate Voss – vocals, melodica, and bells, Jason Goessl – guitar and chimes, Adrian Van Batenburg – drums, Sam Esecson – percussion and drums

About susanfrancesny

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island.

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