Stacey Kent, Songs From Other Places, Candid ****

There is a certain paradox if not irony at play on an album where covers are a theme that the best song is an original that you won't have heard before. That is certainly the case on Stacey Kent's latest Songs From Other Places because to zoom in …

Published: 17 Sep 2021. Updated: 40 days.

There is a certain paradox if not irony at play on an album where covers are a theme that the best song is an original that you won't have heard before. That is certainly the case on Stacey Kent's latest Songs From Other Places because to zoom in on one song only 'Tango In Macao' kidnaps your ears and sounds like a standard and certainly operates like an instant classic already. The work of Mr Stacey ''big Jim'' Tomlinson and Nobel laureate Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, not just on a par with their best song together since their masterpiece 'The Changing Lights', it's even better. A song of playful reproach clinging on to hope 'Tango In Macao' turns to sardonic humour certainly when the Duchess is given to sing the line ''you said we'd tango in Macao but we've done nothing of the sort'' which is one of the ouchiest of lines written by the literary giant possibly ever in a song. Stacey gamely refuses to ham it up too much although the song is crying out for lots of melodrama and walking the line makes the lyric work while making whoopee with some of the rest of the one-sided badinage when the mood lightens and the rhymes romp along from ''now'' to land gleefully on ''before the days of Chairman Mao''. But come to think of it the often deliciously waspish tone of Ish's wonderful Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (Faber and Faber, 2009) could be read instructively for tone and more than a little insight alongside 'Tango in Macao'. Fans of Graham Harvey may well have separation anxiety given that US player Art Hirahara is the Songs From Other Places pianist instead. Excellent he is. As for the standards they don't delight as much. However, Stacey's moving version of 'American Tune' displays once again what a world-class jazz singer she is – not that that's ever in doubt.

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Best jazz of 2021

Here's our 20 best jazz albums of the year so far. We've revised our list as it stood in July from this new distance to make it current, taking out a few that didn't wear so well after a lot of repeated play and added in a sprinkling of top recent …

Published: 17 Sep 2021. Updated: 40 hours.

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Here's our 20 best jazz albums of the year so far. We've revised our list as it stood in July from this new distance to make it current, taking out a few that didn't wear so well after a lot of repeated play and added in a sprinkling of top recent albums

1 Kinds of Love

2 Black Acid Soul

3 Promises

4 Absence

5 Skyline

6 Mirror Mirror

7 Code of Being

8 Songwrights Apothecary Lab

9 Time Traveler

10 Side-Eye NYC V1.IV

11 Revival Room

12 The Heart Wants

13 Uneasy

14 Whistling in the Dark

15 Désinances

16 Cairn

17 Vía de la Plata

18 All Knavery and Collusion

19 En attendant

20 Plan B

Renee Rosnes, top

Read articles on each album

1 Kinds of Love 2 Black Acid Soul 3 Promises 4 Absence 5 Skyline 6 Mirror, Mirror 7 Code of Being 8 Songwrights Apothecary Lab 9 Time Traveler 10 Side-Eye NYC V1.IV 11 Revival Room 12 The Heart Wants 13 Uneasy 14 Whistling in the Dark 15 Désinances 16 Cairn 17 Vía de la Plata 18 All Knavery and Collusion 19 En attendant 20 Plan B