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Love Wins: New Standards for the New Millennium

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Album Review

This brilliant and vastly underrated L.A. based singer/songwriter subtitles his new masterwork of poppin' jazz-inflected originals Love Wins (New Standards for the New Millennium), but this is something of a misnomer. One of its best tracks, "Who Are You?" — which by rights should be considered a classic pop ballad by now — is a tune from the '90s that has been recorded by everyone from Brenda Russell & Bobby Caldwell to Ramsey Lewis. Its composer gives the magical piece its due here again with a gentle arrangement that brings out a true sense of wonderment. That sort of wide-eyed optimism and romance is what makes Cantos stand out in a modern musical world of cynicism. He might have better success with joyous gems like "You've Got Me" and the irrepressible title track if he were to time travel back to the Cole Porter era, but this emotionally compelling set of 13 originals will bring a rapturous sense of whimsy to listeners with a love for the bygone era when people let their hearts actually dream through music. A sensitive vocalist and pianist, Cantos charms easily his smoky, low-key ballads (a yearning "Do I Ever," the plaintive "Forgive Me in Advance"), but seems in even higher spirits on lively, swinging tracks like "A Little Bit of Help," the frenetic and witty (both musically and lyrically) "Morning Coffee," and the unabashed (and funky) declaration that nice guys finish first on "Love Wins." When Cantos is not singing of the delirium of being in love, he's wistfully remembering its glory in the past ("Avenue 18"). The multi-talented artist has been a fixture on the L.A. jazz scene for years, and works to great effect throughout with some of the city's best musicians, some of which are great artists in their own right: Brian Bromberg, Grant Geissman, Jerry Watts, Michael Shapiro, Pat Kelley, Luis Conte, and John Ferraro, among others. While the listener's heart and soul will focus on his beautiful voice and sharp emotional songwriting, his piano solos are top-notch jazz improvisations. Sometimes promotional material is just full of hype, but in this case, Cantos' tagline says it best about the experience: "New songs that feel like you've loved them forever." And you will.

Love Wins: New Standards for the New Millennium, Bill Cantos
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