Online since August 2002

In her own voice

From the Summer 2003 issue.

Kelly Sings Christy: Thou Swell
Kelly Sings Christy: Thou Swell
By Julie Kelly

CMG Records: 2002

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Julie Kelly has the sound of the 1950s down tight: the enunciation of the consonants, the cadence of the syllables, the timing of riding on top of the beat. She's even imbued with that sense of elegance and grace that was so prevalent then.

And so Ms. Kelly's tribute to June Christy captures all of the warmth and class of Christy on a set of songs identified with the late lounge singer.

What she doesn't have is a great set of pipes. Kelly's a warm, personable singer with chops to spare. But the lord didn't give her a memorable voice – there's none of that instant hook that grabs you, that says "This is Ella Fitzgerald" or "This is Billy Eckstine."

That lack of pure voice isn't necessarily fatal – Billie Holiday never had the prettiest voice around, nor did Frank Sinatra after he ruptured his voical cords after World War II.

If not at that level, Kelly is quite a memorable singer in her own right, with a wholly personal stylistic diction that clearly keep this from being any kind of wannabe session.

Instead, this is a salute from one jazz singer to another of a previous, influential generation. And the above-mentioned nods to the '50s aren't some kind of gimmick, they are simply part and parcel of the charm and talent of Ms. Kelly.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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