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Isn't It Romantic: The Standards Album

Johnny Mathis

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Album Review

Although a good number of Johnny Mathis' performances have become standards in the pop songbook, and he's recorded hundreds of classic love songs during his career, there were still a few he'd left behind — even after nearly half a century of singing. Isn't It Romantic: The Standards Album, his first non-Christmas recording of the millennium, found him choosing ten intimate evergreens around which to wrap his velvety voice, still a marvel approaching his 70th birthday. Around the same time singers from a variety of genres had jumped on the standards bandwagon — lured by Rod Stewart's surprising success interpreting the classic American songbook — and Mathis' project focuses on the same type of material. There are a few qualities, however, that separate him from the competition. His long mastery singing love songs is one, and his comprehensive knowledge of the pop canon is another (the last would be, of course, that wonderful voice). His choices for the material on Isn't It Romantic are excellent, all of them natural fits for both his voice and his persona. The most natural for his voice is Jobim's mid-'60s Brazilian standard "Dindi," long an exemplar of what it means to have warmth in a song. The most natural for his persona is "There's a Kind of Hush," which recaptures the naïveté and wonder Mathis exuded on the best performances of his career (such as 1957's "Wonderful! Wonderful!"). The arrangements consist of a core small group backed by orchestral flourishes, and although they contribute very little they also keep the focus on Mathis' voice.

Biography

Born: 30 September 1935 in Gilmer, TX

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s, Johnny Mathis concentrated on romantic readings of jazz and pop standards for the ever-shrinking adult contemporary audience of the '60s and '70s. Though he debuted with a flurry of singles chart activity, Mathis later made it big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over 60 made the charts. While he concentrated on theme-oriented albums...
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Isn't It Romantic: The Standards Album, Johnny Mathis
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