Singers who perform in public — as they must — have singular obstacles to face in performance. Even though the ringing cash register is now a museum piece, there are so many extraneous sounds to surmount even when the audience is properly quiet and (imagine this!) everyone’s smartphone is shut off. Dishes and glasses clink; the waitstaff murmurs details of the specials, offers a dessert menu, presents the bill. The presumed answer to this is amplification, which can make a quiet sound audible at the back of the room, but in the process coarsens every nuance.
A CD session recorded in a studio has its own set of obstacles: the creative artist may be restricted to one small space, may be burdened with headphones and be banished into a booth . . . but we don’t see these travails, and the sound we hear through our speakers is a kinder representation of the human voice.
Hence, this delightful surprise (recorded by Malcolm Addey, so you can imagine the clear, accurate sound) in 2015:
In case you can’t read the back cover, the songs are I Walk a Little Faster / Wouldn’t It Be Loverly / Feel Like Makin’ Love / Lets Go Live In a Lighthouse / Cycling Along With You / Inside a Silent Tear / My Blue Heaven / A O Zora / You Turned the Tables On Me / Fly Me To The Moon / You Wanna Bet / The Brooklyn Bridge / The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
And the Orchestra with Vocal Refrain is Daryl, piano and vocals, with Harvie S, string bass, on tracks 2 and 10. It’s a delightfully old-fashioned CD: twelve tracks, fifty minutes, but no need to turn it over.
From the start, it’s a wonderful chance to hear Daryl — “her ownself” — as we might say in the Middle West a century ago. She is of course her own splendid accompanist, and her two selves never get in each other’s way. And I would direct some pianists who revere Tatum as their model to her spare, pointed accompaniment.
Her voice is the true delight here. Daryl sounds so much like herself, and is I think instantly recognizable, although one may call to mind Mildred Bailey, Blossom Dearie, and Dave Frishberg as musical colleagues and inspirations. I think she’s been undervalued because of what sounds (to the casual listener) like girlish charm, a high sweet voice with a conversational, sometimes wry delivery. But once the listener is into this CD for more than a chorus, the absence of other instrumentalists allows us to hear emotional depth beneath the apparent light-heartedness. This isn’t to say that the disc veers towards the dark or maudlin, but there is a true adult sensibility that makes even the most familiar material shine as if beautifully polished and lit. And even if you think you know how Daryl sings and plays, I submit that this CD is her masterpiece to date, sending us gentle immediacy of the most rare kind.
It’s a wonderful one-woman show, with nothing to excess, and a CD I’d like to send to many singers to show ’em how it can be done.
Matters of finance! If you send Daryl an email here, and say the magic words, “I’d like to buy MY BLUE HEAVEN,” her staff will help you do just that. You can also ask for an autographed copy. For now, checks only: $20 plus $ for shipping. You can also browse around her site to learn about upcoming gigs, to read her biography, see pictures, and more. I’m amused and pleased that four of the five videos are mine.