I could adequately describe and review Lovesome Thing, the new album from singer Anais Reno, in the most reductive way by simply playing any ten or fifteen seconds, letting you soak in her grand, husky and nearly perfect voice and then say, “Hear this singer? She’s only sixteen years old! Can you believe it?”
We’ve heard this before, the young singer with the big, mature voice, and sometimes, but not always, they have a pretty nice LeeAnn Rimes-Tanya Tucker-Charlotte Church kind of career. The novelty wears off after a few years, but they can keep it going on pure talent. It’s hard to imagine this scenario for NYC-based Anais Reno, because the “great voice for someone so young” qualifier seems woefully inept. Anais Reno chose to cover Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn songs for this debut, and it sounds like she’s been singing wonderful songs such as “Caravan,” “Mood Indigo” and “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” for a lot longer than sixteen years. This is an exceptional debut by any standard.
In other words, I would have given this album a rave if Anais Reno was twice her age. It’s one thing for a person her age to conjure up all that grit and strength and purist technique to wow an audience, but it’s quite another to establish an original style with songs that have been sung by countless others. It’s not mimickry, it’s something can only be a function of pure, unfettered talent–not a surprise when you learn of Reno’s rich and musical upbringing. It seems she’s spent a lifetime–and maybe she has–thinking about the best way to sing these songs.
As she explains, “The overall color of the album, a little sad, a little blue, a little romantic, is really me.”
Anais Reno was supported by a stellar line-up of musicians, including pianist Emmet Cohen, bass player Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole, along with enough guest musicians to give each song its own individual and varied feel. And while she excels at being blue, she can also let loose and swing like any jazz singer standing in front of a big band ensemble. But her true moment of reckoning comes when she sings “Chelsea Bridge,” without words, just that powerful, clear and open voice that’s destined for greatness, I believe.