While it's a tad difficult to pin down the exact decade, Sandra Marlowe definitely doesn't live in the 21st century, preferring the halcyon days of The Great American Songbook as her milieu, in fact an almost perfect Mason/Dixon border of soulful black jazz inflection and white Tin Pan Alley. The top side of her middle-range voice is Ella Fitzgerald sans most of the scat and bebop but with that beautiful elongated mellifluity Ella excelled at. There's a bit of Sarah Vaughn there as well, and then a generous helping of 30s and 40s New York, classy speakeasy ambiance with a bit of novo Catholic church choir in cuts like Love Dance.
Marlowe's facility with range is almost operatic, starting with feet planted firmly on the ground before soaring into the clouds, reaching for the sun but preferring San Francisco fogs, cool afternoons, metropolitan night streets, and even a taste or two of Mayberry transposed into a California hideaway. Then she starts in on a bebop rush before applying the brakes and turning Honeysuckle Rose on its head, languid, seductive, and knowing. That established, the band kicks in and two-steps all around the dance hall, never letting the standard look in the mirror, twirling about the floor like a dance instructor. There's a lot of almost classical Romanticism going on as well, Lonely House/With Every Breath I Take becoming a weeper in the cathedral or maybe down a lonely back country road, perhaps even a suddenly dolorous kitchen in Miltown. Nearly 8 minutes in length, it's a canvas of melancholy.
Ah, but the normally effervescent percolating classic Corea/Rodrigo/Jarreau Spain first undergoes another of the song's several revisions, first a slow reflective balladic lament before amping up into its natural raiment, perky as ya please, and Marlowe makes the most of it, all over the place, closing with a spectacular last few bars. The focus everywhere in True Blue is Marlowe's voice, and she's capable of covering a lot of ground in knowledgeably superb fashion…convincingly. That's the key. As golden as this CD is, I suspect we've only seen just heard the tip of the iceberg.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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