by Constance Tucker
There is something timeless about standards, no matter how many times you might hear them sung by various artists, they still have that snap that stands the test of time. Vocalist Pam Brennan is certainly not the first to feature these timeless gems on an album, but she certainly is a welcomed songbird in the mix of Great American Songbook renditions. Supported by an aptly talented ensemble that featuring, Ron Affif on guitar, Richie Iacona on piano, Tom Kirchmer holding down the rhythm section on bass with drummer Tony Tedesco. Tracks 3, 4, 6, 7, and 10 are supported by Ken Ascher on piano, giving an equal balance to the pianists on the project for a total of eleven tracks.
Brennan has an easy-going style; her voice is calming and has a soothing sparkle about it. “Old Devil Moon,” is a perfect vehicle that exhibits her approach. Taken at a much slower pace then usual it focuses on the breezy side of her delivery. The ensemble creates a glorious soundscape of Latin tinged rhythms, with restrained mastery. With a change up in the B-section of straight-ahead swing the arrangement works, and Brennan shimmers.
Contrastingly, “Moonglow” is a seductive and sleek rendition with elongated lines. Brennan uses her upper register to punctuate the melody, while the band evokes band hits to accent the arrangement with great result.
Ending the album with a ballad “Make Someone Happy,” is a relaxed adieu – sending the listener off with a positive message. Brennan darkens her voice, while still capturing the hopeful lilt in the lyric. Pianist Asher provides a lyrical and heartfelt solo that sets up the final moments for Brennan to glide upon, creating a peaceful ending to a joyful disc that will linger long after the final notes are played.
Brennan is a new name to me, but one I will continue to watch for, her style is honest and easy on the ears, and her respect for the standards is clearly evident. Accompanied by an outstanding ensemble, and in particular the sensitivity of Ron Affif, who can be found on several albums we have reviewed over the years, he continues to prove he is a go to guitarist for vocalists and serves them well. I look forward to hearing more from Pam Brennan, a fresh voice in the Great American Songbook fabric.