Jazz vocalist Lyn Stanley honors late performer Julie London on “London Calling…A Toast to Julie London”

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Lyn Stanley’s latest album has a special purpose and meaning. Not only is “London Calling…A Tribute to Julie London” the singer’s sixth album, it also serves as her tribute to late performer, Julie London. Scheduled for a Valentine’s Day weekend release of Feb. 15, 2019, the songs cover a range of romantic moods and genres and time periods of music. From “Cry Me a River” to “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” to “Light My Fire” the tracks on “London Calling” are classic, even iconic in their original versions. Stanley brings her classic style to songs that most audiences will find familiar.

About Julie London

Julie London (1926-2000) was an actress who began singing at the age of 29. Her signature song became “Cry Me a River” which became a major hit. Ultimately, London recorded 31 albums in 14 years. London was beloved by audiences for her sultry song sensibility and her use of phrasing and even silences.

As an actress, London was known for her roles on the show “Emergency” and in B-level movies. When she happened upon her singing talent, London was already known to an appreciative public. Her death in 2000 left some fans and performers bereft. For some, it is appropriate that London is honored now.

Lyn Stanley: “London Calling…A Toast to Julie London”

With 17 songs there are is no shortage of interesting music on the album. Most impressive is the wide-range of songs, that are one thing to read about and another thing to hear.

On “London Calling,” Stanley uses her smooth, sometimes smoky voice to great advantage. While she is vivacious on songs like “Goody Goody” and even “Call Me Irresponsible,” Stanley shines on classics like “Summertime” and “Light My Fire.” In short, if listeners are familiar with certain versions of the songs Stanley presents, they should listen to her versions. Her approaches invite close listening to the songs, which allow audiences to hear the music in different ways.

On “Summertime” for example, Stanley makes great use of the way her voice interplays with the upright bass. The bluesy turn that the song takes sounds appropriate for the subject and its original time period. Fans of the tune will find themselves waiting for signature moments in the song, such as the verse after the break. The bass weaves itself around the lyrics and also serves to underscore the instrumentation, which sounds spare. Stanley’s version recalls rhythmically, the one by Mahalia Jackson. Stanley’s phrasing is classic and makes the Gershwin tune come to life.

“Light My Fire” is the most surprising track on the recording, arguably. An introduction with elaborate Latin guitar grabs listeners’ attention. The Latin feel never goes away. The song sounds authentic and acoustic. The guitars are supplemented by what sounds to be percussion played by hand. The song retains the emotional urgency of the original without the raised, masculine voice that drives the rock version. Stanley’s version finds her singing quietly, but passionately, as is her way often. She brings the original down a few notches in regard to rock ‘n’ roll intensity, but adds a touch of intimacy.

Whether audiences have heard of Julie London or not, “London Calling. . . A  Toast to Julie London” is a recording worth having.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. 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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