Sarah McKenzie – Close Your Eyes (2012)

Sarah McKenzie - Close Your Eyes (2012)
Artist: Sarah McKenzie
Album: Close Your Eyes
Genre: Vocal Jazz
Origin: Australia
Released: 2012
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

Tracklist:
01. Close Your Eyes (2:29)
02. Too Young (5:45)
03. The Way You Look Tonight (5:45)
04. The Lovers Tune (5:05)
05. Big Yellow Taxi (6:47)
06. Got To Be This Way (5:15)
07. I Remember You (5:55)
08. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (4:14)
09. At Last (6:09)
10. Blue Skies (5:25)
11. I Should Care (6:04)

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FOR a 24-year-old, vocalist-pianist-composer Sarah McKenzie has already achieved a great deal.

She graduated in composition at Perth’s Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts, winning several awards there as well as a James Morrison Scholarship, and now embarks on a scholarship invitation to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Her 2011 debut album, Don’t Tempt Me, brought attention to her as a new young talent to watch and was produced, as she is this session, by Chong Lim, whose credits include musical director for John Farnham and Dancing With the Stars.

The material here is much the same as that earlier work: jazz standards, pop songs and a couple of originals, all arranged by McKenzie. From the outset, on the up-tempo title track, it is obvious this vocalist has a good grasp of jazz phrasing and interpretation as well as competent ability on piano.

Her arrangements are well constructed, too, with some fine solos by the likes of guitarist Hugh Stuckey, Eamon McNelis on trumpet and saxophonist Julien Wilson. While new interpretations of old songs are always welcome, care needs to be given to the spirit and intent of the originals.

The reworking of Nat King Cole’s sensitive ballad Too Young as a rock-along, mild stomper is not an improvement, but versions of Big Yellow Taxi and I Remember You are more successful.

Don’t Get Around Much Any More would have had more impact at a slightly slower tempo. The seldom-heard verse and subsequent refrain of I Should Care in an ultra-slow tempo works particularly well, demonstrating McKenzie’s capability to linger over and elongate lyrics in an expressive interpretation of a romantic ballad.

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