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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Embrace Me

Perseverance PRD 078



1. All of You

2. But Not For Me

3. Embraceable You

4. All the Things You Are

5. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

6. The Man I Love

7. Teach Me Tonight

8. Nice Work if You Can Get It

9. Yesterdays

10. The Nearness of You

Antonia Bennett – Vocals

Jon Davis – Piano

Paul Nowinski – Bass

Rafael Barata –Drums

I had quite high expectations of this album, because it is by the daughter of renowned singer Tony Bennett. Mind you, that can have its problems as children of famous parents often get preferential treatment - it’s called nepotism. Yet Tony Bennett says of his daughter: “Antonia’s got the gift. She has good time. She sings in tune. She has a good spontaneous feeling for phrasing”.

In fact Tony’s assessment is a fair summary of Antonia’s gifts, although I’m not too sure about her phrasing. In fact her sound and style remind me of Stacey Kent, who has the same shake in her voice, and a similar pleasing tunefulness - despite this sometimes falling into blandness. Antonia sings in tune but her enunciation is poor, leaving off some final consonants which ought to be heard to get the thrust of the lyrics.

The lyrics are another point of contention. In an interview, Antonia praised the lyrics of the Great American Songbook, which makes up the entirety of the material on this CD. But if she so admires the words of the songs, why does she often change them unnecessarily? She garbles the lyrics ofI Can’t Give You Anything But Love, changing “That's the only thing I've plenty of” to “That’s the only thing I’m dreaming of”. In Nice Work if You Can Get It, she omits “anything” from “anything more”. And in The Nearness of You, she adds the word “Darling” before “if you’ll grant me”, similarly upsetting the balance of the words.

The backing trio is generally very acceptable, although the pianist has a way of ending tunes with upward tinkling notes that sound attractive the first time he uses them but which become irritating when used too frequently. And the drummer is one of those people who plays random rimshot clicks which add nothing to the rhythm. To cap it all, the album lasts for only about 35 minutes – not exactly generous. There are hosts of lady vocalists around at present, and listening to Antonia gives me the same feeling as watching The X Factor on television: do we really need more singers?

Tony Augarde

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