Life Goes On
September 28, 2015
Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes
Returning to recording after a professional hiatus, jazzy stylist Stevie Holland sings gems from the Great American Songbook on her newly released eclectic album, Life Goes On. The cuts include personal favorites from her repertoire as well as more contemporary and original songs. The result is an album that goes from deeply melancholic (the title cut) and uplifting (“99 Miles from L.A.”). It doesn’t get better than opening with the beloved “Skylark,” given a breezy swing treatment here, with her supple alto vocals setting the mood for what’s to come. With some classy arrangements by her long-time personal and professional partner Gary William Friedman, and a terrific band of professionals, this album hits the right chords and is worthy of attention.
Aside from “Skylark,” Holland has some truly special moments that include a sensitive reading of “April Snow,” starting with a terrific piano accompaniment (by the great Randy Ingram), and segueing into a well-paced rhythmic trio in the background. Other highlights are a swinging, well-sung “Tea for Two” and a beautiful “Out of This World” with finely honed phrasing that makes the song more compelling. Holland has a way with ballads that invites listeners to close their eyes and enjoy. That quality can’t be bought.
There is no thunder and lightning on this CD. And that’s the point. Unnecessary vocal gymnastics or overwrought nuances with over-produced arrangements aren’t called for. In that regard, Stevie Holland gets high marks for an album that is classy, sassy…and just right.