by Associate Editor Michael P. Coleman
The legendary Dianne Reeves may have recorded the best album of her career with Beautiful Life.
Reeves told me by phone that the new album is “…a jazz record steeped in soul.” The superb project showcases Reeves’ stunning range — both vocal and artistic. The collection kicks off with an incredible cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic “I Want You” and morphs into the original tune “Feels So Good (Lifted)”. The two tracks back-to-back create a laid back, soulful vibe that has proven to be hard to sustain for an entire album unless you’re Gaye himself, or someone of his caliber. Lesser vocalists have tried to create similar albums that leave the listener…bored.
Reeves is more than up to the challenge, with her voice almost sounding like a musical instrument unto itself, seamlessly blending with the orchestration when it should and absolutely soaring when it has to. At times, her timbre resembles that of a blaring trumpet (“Tango”). At others, it’s as soft as a breeze on your cheek (“Dreams”). Throughout Beautiful Life, Reeves has that gorgeous voice of hers completely under control, and her listener in the palm of her hand.
Highlights include the aforementioned, along with breathtaking covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain” (featuring Lalah Hathaway), and the classic “Stormy Weather”. The gorgeous “Long Road Ahead” closes out the album — just a little too soon for me.
Reeves told me that she thought Beautiful Life “…has one foot in the jazz tradition and the other in the music of today. The sound of the album is different, but it’s still me.” We could use a little more of “me” on the music scene today.
Beautiful Life is available February 11th for download and at amazon.com.
Michael P. Coleman is available this weekend for a cup of coffee, at michaelpcoleman.com, or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP