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Holding Back the Years

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Album Review

After venturing into the rock and soul catalog with renditions of Bob Dylan, Curtis Mayfield, and the Talking Heads songs, Little Jimmy Scott really digs here with a program made up almost entirely by pop hits from the last three decades. Due in part to the insight of producers Gerry McCarthy and Dale Ashley, Scott tackles contemporary material that, in its elegance, jazz overtones, and passion, is perfectly suited to his special brand of vocal savvy and knack for the great standards. Of course, he could probably cover almost any song and transform it into something unique, which is what he often does here. With his gentle pacing, vulnerable-sounding yet powerful soprano, and unerring sense of dynamics, Scott entirely refashions classics like Bryan Ferry's "Slave to Love," Elton John and Bernie Taupin's "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word," and the movie theme "The Crying Game." And while maybe not wrought anew, his versions of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy," Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue," and Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" are still stunning. He even gives Simply Red's Mick Hucknell a few needed lessons in vocal phrasing with an in-the-pocket rendition of the title track. Better to showcase Scott's singular voice, the arrangers wisely supply him with an unobtrusive and classy backdrop punctuated with subtle, yet keen solo breaks. An amazing set by one of the best singers around.

Holding Back the Years, Jimmy Scott
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