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Real Emotional

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Album Review

Still best-known for his brace of early-'90s AOR hits, Idaho singer-saxophonist Curtis Stigers has spent the 2000s showcasing the jazz credentials he developed during jam sessions with his hometown's star pianist, Gene Harris. His eighth studio album, Real Emotional, may feature three self-penned compositions, the most since signing to the Concord label in 2001, but its continuing over-reliance on cover versions suggests that he's still not entirely confident with his shift in direction. It's a shame that he lacks the courage of his convictions, as "I Need You," a melancholic, piano-led, cocktail bar ballad which highlights Stigers' vocal reinvention from blue-eyed soul pin-up to mature, smoky-voiced troubadour; "I Only Want to Be with You," a shuffling Norah Jones-esque country-blues number co-written with younger brother Jake, and "A Woman Just Like You," a toe-tapping slice of seductive salsa, are all worthy of sitting alongside the more familiar material. However, Real Emotional still manages to avoid the lazy tribute approach favored by his mainstream contemporaries; although there are renditions of tracks by performers whom Stigers has previously tackled, such as Tom Waits ("San Diego Serenade"), Randy Newman (the title track), and Mose Allison ("Your Mind Is on Vacation"), the selection of classics from The Great American Songbook are not as predictable as you'd expect. Alongside his Hammond organ-led take of Emmylou Harris' "I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now," there's a Sinatra-style interpretation of Stephen Merritt's "As You Turn to Go," and a swinging blues adaptation of Dan Zanes' "Night Owl," while Stigers also puts his own spin on the more recognizable standards, turning Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" into a sophisticated double bass-heavy Rat Pack number, and substituting the acoustic guitar for twinkling piano keys on Paul Simon's "American Tune," while still retaining the emotion of the original. Real Emotional, therefore, cleverly avoids the trap of falling into pleasant background music, but it could have been more engaging if Stigers just had a little more faith in his own songwriting abilities. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Love the Voice

I woke up from a Sunday nap to the sound of "I Only Want to Be With You" playing on my local NPR station and knew I had to have the whole album. I'm usually much more a blues fan than jazz, but Curtis has that special something vocally.

He makes me like jazz.

I'm not a big jazz fan, especially the modern stuff. I like old school like Loui Armstrong but Curtis Stigers has a cool way of interpreting these songs. I like that his voice has alittle rough edge to it.

i do believe i've fallen in love

i'm a new jazz fan and i recently saw him live... he stole the heart of every woman in the house! he has amazing talent and should never be forgotten!!!


Born: October 19, 1965 in Hollywood, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Curtis Stigers' interest in music began as a teen in Boise, Idaho, playing in punk and blues bands as well as receiving classical training in clarinet and saxophone in high school. After graduation, Stigers moved to New York to pursue rock music, but soon found himself more at home in the city's blues and jazz clubs. He attracted label attention as the saxophonist/vocalist of a jazz trio, signing a deal with Arista and releasing two albums for the label: 1991's self-titled, multi-platinum...
Full Bio
Real Emotional, Curtis Stigers
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Customer Ratings