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Speak Love

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Album Review

It's a little surprising for Seattle's Origin label, heavy on instrumentalists and local scene players, to take on a torch singer in its portfolio. However, L.A. area songstress Courtney Fortune shows stronger development than many of the average lounge singers, combining with contemporary big-band maestro Chris Walden for a number of compositions that highlight aspects outside of the standard jazz repertoire. Her self-penned "You're Starting to Feel Like Home" rolls out as a definite torch song, but with deeper tones hailing from the realm of contemporary pop and rock. Fortune's vocals are highlighted perfectly in this nontraditional format. Contrarily, the title track uses some intriguing guitar ideas, but then calls in more sweeping string arrangements to accompany Fortune, leading to a more traditional form. Her voice holds up well in this scenario, but some of the iconoclastic magic is missing. It's in the original compositions and less standard (for the lounge scene) formats that Fortune really shines, when she shows off her originality in form rather than just fitting into the torch singer mold, when her deeper vocals come naturally rather than with the forced qualities that characterize some torch singers. As a result, the album can be a little hit or miss, but when she's on, she's most definitely on.

Speak Love, Courtney Fortune
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