Rebecca Angel debuts with “What We Had”

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Rebecca Angel is a young singer – – 22 years old as of this writing. Her music on “What We Had” is a reflection of her grounding in both jazz and pop. From the scat that calls to mind Earth, Wind & Fire as opposed to Sarah Vaughn, the beats and arrangements that stir memories of 1980s Sade, all mixed in with a heavy dose of samba, are all found on this debut album.

The mix of sounds and styles are what keep listeners engaged in Angel’s work. She does make good use of her range to make songs come to life. At first, it is easy to peg Angel as someone who performs safely in medium to low ranges, but when she lets higher notes fly, the singer earns the listener’s respect. Songs like “Winter Moon,” “What We Had,” and “Agora Sim” effectively showcase Angel’s style and register ranges.

About Rebecca Angel

Angel’s introduction to music came early in life, and it wasn’t long before her dad included the works of Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Elvis, the Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, Astrud Gilberto and Sade to her musical knowledge base.

Hearing that eclectic group of performers no doubt influenced a young music fan that would become a performer herself. There is a hint of almost all of the aforementioned singers in Angel’s debut, especially Peggy Lee and Sade.

Angel is accompanied by a full ensemble of players that includes flugelhorn, soprano sax, acoustic rhythm guitar, and three basses, one of which is acoustic. “What We Had” was produced by Grammy-winner producer, Jason Miles.

“Winter Moon” by Rebecca Angel

Here, Angel takes the Hoagy Carmichael classic (that is seldom recorded) and makes it new for another generation of listeners. What is notable about the song is the haunting melody, the Latin rhythms and the way Angel’s vocals interact with the soprano saxophone, gives the song satisfying moments that last throughout the piece.

The opening has a solid combination of saxophone, percussion and keyboards. Angel’s voice rushes in and gives the song life. In the background, the Latin rhythms continue. When listeners might expect Angel’s voice to grow breathy, she does not. At least not in a way that is super airy as is sometimes the approach of female singers of all ages when they take on a song like “Winter Moon.”

“What We Had” by Rebecca Angel

The title track is beautifully rendered. It is an example of pop jazz that allows listeners to hear the influence of Sade on Angel. The Latin rhythm accents the bass and guitar, but as the song changes to go into the chorus, it sounds more pop, even r&b-ish. As the song moves toward its end, Angel’s voice gets stronger and the outside-of -jazz influences become even more clear. It should be noted that Angel was one of the co-songwriters of “What We Had.”

“Agora Sim” by Rebecca Angel

This is song is an exercise in vocalese.The way that Angel’s voice takes up the style and makes it fresh for each part of the song is nice. It sounds as if Angel’s vocals have been layered. The effect makes the sound more rich, and the enchanting guitar and percussion give the song its “Ipanema” feel.

The gently layered voices, the warm tones of the instrumentation all add up to imagery that sounds as if audiences are hearing the sounds at the beach. It is the perfect sound for late summer.

“What We Had” is scheduled for release Aug. 3, 2018.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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