A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Sarah Umberger
If you like Billie Holiday and the 40s swing jazz tunes she covered or you're a fan of music inspired by that era, I'd say give I'm Pulling Through by Stephanie Davis a listen. The entire CD is a thoroughly enjoyable and classy listening experience in the swing jazz/country jazz tradition. If you've never heard Billy Holiday, nor any of the great tunes she's famous for singing, (What a Little Moonlight Can Do, He's Funny that Way, You've Changed, I'm Pulling Through, to name a few included on this CD), then some of these songs may sound old-fashioned. They may remind you of famous tunes you've heard somewhere but can't remember where or when. Whether you've heard them or not, with this CD you can listen to these terrific standards performed with a fresh, contemporary feel by a sophisticated contemporary country-swing-jazz band.
Stephanie has added 4 originals to the 7 covers on the track list, There's a Springtime Feelin' In My Heart, Yellow Moon, Yours, and Big Sky Bounce (instrumental). The song-writing quality in each is so good I found it impossible to tell the difference, stylistically, from the more famous tunes she covers. The production on each song is true to the swing tradition with all the instrumental character (piano, guitars, tenor sax, clarinet, trumpet, fiddle, bass and drums), style and verve. Stephanie is an accomplished fiddle player and singer. Being an expert in the song stylings of Billy Holiday is a mixed blessing. Hearing similarities with Holiday's vocals can give listeners either a very pleasant recognition experience or, with more demanding Holiday fans, a feeling of disappointment. Although quite gifted at duplicating some of Holiday's vocal styles with certain songs, those familiar with Holiday's recordings will miss her unique gift for singing the blues. Don't expect to find it in every song or note on this CD.
I'd recommend I'm Pulling Through for the following reasons. The Holiday signature songs are all winners and Stephanie Davis has the big spirit, if not the deep troubled Holiday chest, to cover these songs as they should be covered, keeping them alive in our memory. These standards are still great and worth hearing over and over.
For a current night "out at a cabaret" with a contemporary feeling, Stephanie and her band are able to satisfy a hunger for swing jazz and these impressive songs. The original songs are very good and blend in seamlessly with the more famous ones, thereby making a very nice listening program for fans of this great American musical tradition.
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Edited by Rona Edwards