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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.

Isn't It Romantic: The Standards Album
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