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Imaginary Lover

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Album Review

New Orleans' answer to Candy Dulfer, Grace Darling (surely that's not her real name) is both a torch singer and a tenor saxophonist with decidedly middle of the road aspirations. She calls her mix of pop, light jazz, and soft rock "pop gumbo," and Allen Toussaint's typically excellent production does add a decidedly New Orleans flair to the otherwise fairly standard songs. Darling is a very good singer and a not-bad saxophone player — she's better than Kenny G, which admittedly is not saying much — but the material is consistently lightweight. Al Kooper's title track has some spunk and grit to it, but the rest of the album sounds like it's trying to be polite and inoffensive, as if Darling and crew made this album specifically to be played as background music in New Orleans-themed chain restaurants. Darling's pop gumbo definitely needs more spice.

Customer Reviews

5 stars

She's my mom. That's why I'm giving it five stars.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Saxophonist, songwriter and vocalist Grace Darling's 1997 debut, "Imaginary Lover," for NYNO Records, created waves in the jazz world. To be sure, she was not the first female saxophonist to emerge in the 1990's, but her unique artful blend of blues, gospel and jazz influences were encapsulated perfectly in her first album. By the time she was 18, she had performed twice at the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival. Darling, born and raised in New Orleans, began playing piano at age seven and became...
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Imaginary Lover, Grace Darling
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