Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Fair Affair (Music Review: Amy Hancock, Love Affair)

On one end, I am glad that so many people sing the Great American Standards. I don't think it will disappear any time soon as more and more people discover ti, and keep it alive everyday. However, we get so many versions of some of these standards that are so derivative. Consider, for example, Amy Hancock's "Love Affair," which is an album from 2008. Ms. Hancock is a jazz singer from North Carolina - I wonder if she voted for Jesse Helms? -  and there really isn't anything too wrong in her singing, or this album. But, it's so unmemorable. Her clear slightly pitchy voice isn't offensive, but its blandness is. At first, there is a bit of coziness in her slowed-down delivery, but it doesn't progress to anything as memorable a la Helen Merrill's, who mastered that art. And her tempi doesn't help much. She would be that kind of singer who would catch your attention at a hotel bar lobby. You would think, well this is nice, a fine break from the pop music from the cab. But as soon as you leave the bar, you instantly forget her,  her music, and the bar. Sadly, this album falls in the same category. The most wonderful thing about the greats - Ella, Sarah, Peggy, Dinah - is that they are son wonderfully unique from each other, yet exudes the same sensibility. I have listened to his album three times now (in a row) and I don't think I would identify her in s jazz singer row. Sad. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Beautiful Lightness Of Blackberry (Perfume Review: Trish McEvoy #9 Blackberry and Vanilla Musk)

Sometimes you discover cents by accident, and just fall head over heels for it. That happened to me yesterday with Trish McEvoy's #9 Blackberry and Vanilla Musk. Even though I have seen this perfume and passed by it a million times, I never sampled it. I think it's because its packaging reminds me of warmed-up Jo Malone, or maybe I associate the brand with something that doesn't appeal to me. So my sister was at the makeup counter trying something when a sales associate started making a sample of this to a customer. I caught a whiff of it, and like a light bulb flashing, asked "What was that?" And yes, it appealed to me instantly. The blackberry is very appealing, and I always thought that note was inflexible. Here, the blackberry is "weighted" by adding vanilla and musk. You think you know what that would smell like, right? The overall effect does not make it heavier. On the contrary, there is an undercurrent of clean rose and something citrus-sy in the background that makes the perfume light, almost ethereal. I think that is some kind of feat - this scent could have gone the deep dark route - and while there's nothing wrong with that, the effect is a cliche. I went ahead and made myself a small sample, and I am now craving this so bad and kind of regret not getting it because they were giving out a 10 percent "friends and family" discount yesterday. Let's see how long I last.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kleig Lights, Places, Action! (Book Review: Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Tim Federle)

"Fix Six Seven Nate" is Tim Federle's sequel to his NYT Bestselling book "Better Than Nate" and of course I loved the first one so I just had to read and find out what happened to Nate. When we left him on the first book, he was just getting the call from the producers regarding his audition for "E.T. The Musical." And here we find out from the first page that he has been hired as the understudy for the role of "E.T."  I couldn't help but feel a little bummed by this, because, I thought, all that set up in the first book and after rooting for him, he only gets an understudy role? I wish I could say that the sequel is as good as the first book but I felt that it wasn't. There's a lull in the middle of the book, and I couldn't keep track of all the characters in his cast. But it eventually picked up and the last quarter of the book is thrilling, and we get sort of a cliffhanger again, setting up for the third book. This is still good reading.