STACEY KENT: Raconte-Moi (Label: Blue Note)

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STACEY KENT: Raconte-Moi

Stacey Kent is always classified as a jazz singer; she disputes it. Born in New Jersey but now sharing her home time between Colorado and North London, she was brought up on musical comedies and the great jazz masters before becoming fascinated with singers like Neil Young and Cat Stevens. A graduate in Comparative Literature, Stacey sees herself first and foremost as a vocal story teller and it’s therefore, entirely appropriate that for this, her new album, she embraces the great French tradition of chanson. .. whose raison d’être is the telling of stories. Stacey has already recorded in French – her grandfather lived in France and she has always had a predilection for artists like Serge Gainsbourg, but here she offers a whole album’s worth “en francais”. On ‘Raconte-Moi’ she tackles classics from France’s musical heritage (like Paul Misraki’s lovely ‘L’Etang’)alongside newer work – like Emille Satt’s ‘La Venus De Milo’. Interestingly her passion for the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim is also represented with a lively, French language version of ‘Aguas de Marco’ (‘Les Eaux De Mars’) while she also includes a number from the great American songbook – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘It’s Spring’ (‘C’est printemps’). It’s all delivered with Stacey’s impeccable clarity and distinct phrasing and there’s just the right amount of understatement – and the players take their cue from that (in particular, pianist Graham Harvey). ‘Raconte-Moi’ is a subtle album, creating a gentle and soporific mood…. best summed up by the simplicity of Barbara’s ‘Le Mal De Vivre’. It matters not one jot that you can’t understand many of the words; it’s more about atmosphere and mood and if you connect with your feelings – you’ll get the point… and surely that’s the secret of good storytelling.
(BB) 4/5