With that heart-shaped face and posture whispering of playful seduction, Deborah Winters looks like Debbie Harry in her prime but sure as hell doesn't sing like Blondie's overhyped chanteuse, instead bringing the American Songbook days rushing back in a big way…without any of the overt brassiness such a descriptive might accidentally infer, though. Winters is silky smooth even while at her most freespirited, as in the scatty melismatics in How am I to Know, and Herb Wong, in his liner notes, attributes traces of Billie Holiday, with which I didn't at first agree, but he's right. Those elements lay in certain intonation choices, unusual inflections not often heard, but don't really look too hard for the Lady Day / Peggy / Sarah comparatives that are sure to abound; Ms. Winters is all her own.
And she's backed by a very impressive roster, not to mention great arranging. Guitarists Randy Vincent and Garth Webber especially get some wickedly cool leads inside several songs as Dave Mathews (the Santana guy, not the actor-musician or the big-band leader) adds his keyboard magic, but what stands out most is the constant purity of the singer's tone, the sort of perfection one would expect of an opera singer, and the satiny control, never a quaver out of place, never the least mistake. The laconic I'll Close my Eyes is particularly subtle, the sort of work other singers listen to when they want examples of the ne plus ultra in their field.
The same is true of The End of a Love Affair, which flips everything into a boppier frame with more angular references but just as sophisticated in its winding sinuousness. After just so much of this CD, I was forced to write the agency which submitted, asking "Um, hey, you're saying this is just her third CD?!?! That's a typo…right?", but no, it is indeed merely her third effort…sounding like the thirtieth, rich in a confidence normally deriving from decades-long experience, from a mindset of expertise usually denied the run of mere mortals. Cole Porter's Get Out of Town, a miscellany of ironies on a love too intense to be undertaken, is here both playful and heartfelt, not the usual lark of philosophical toss-offs, invested with an emotion that explores the paradox of yearning in a song turning the classic scene of unrequited love into an equally problematic scenario of commitment and its potential frustrations in, of all places, paradise. Thus, the requited becomes a blissful bad choice, and that capture of an ultra-refined insight, y'all, ain't easy to pull off!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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