More than three years after the release of her then latest album, Lins, Lennox, & Life, independent jazz singer Dee Bell has returned with a new presentation. Bell released her new record, a compilation set titled Love For Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now, Jan. 3 through Laser Records. The 10-song record originally started out as a two-song tribute to Abbey Lincoln and Al Dubin according to information in the collection’s brief liner notes, but grew into a full look back on part of her career as things progressed. The liner notes do not explain how that happened, but that Is beside the point. The songs featured in the collection are themselves the most important aspect of the compilation and will be discussed shortly. The songs’ production is of its own importance and will be examined a little later. Their sequencing rounds out the compilation’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now a good introduction to Bell and her body of work for some and an equally welcome retrospective for others.
Dee Bell’s new compilation record, Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now is a presentation that most audiences will find interesting. The record’s interest comes in large part through its featured songs. Eight of the record’s 10 total songs are originals from Bell while the two opening numbers – ‘I Got Thunder [and it rings]’ and ‘I’ll String Along With You’ – are covers. The eight originals are pulled from Bell’s three most recent albums, Sagacious Grace (2011), Silva Bell Elation (2014) and Lins, Lennox, & Life (2018). Considering that Bell has apparently released a total of five albums and that her first two albums, Let There Be Love and One By One were released in 1982 and 1984 respectively, those three albums make up a big (and the most recent) part of Bell’s career. To that end, the songs featured in this record are quite representative of Bell’s catalog. This is something that Bell’s established audiences will appreciate just as much as more casual audiences. That is because of the solid introduction that they offer said audiences.
The songs featured in Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now form a strong foundation for the record. Building on that foundation is the production that went into the songs in remastering them. The clarity in each composition is so rich. Whether it be the balance of the saxophone and piano line against Bell’s vocals in ‘Harvest Moon,’ the warmth of Bell’s vocals against the subdued piano line in ‘Watch What Happens’ or the subtle trumpet line featured in ‘By Chance [Acaso]’ that opens the song and the even more subtle brushes used on the snare drum here, or any other part in the rest of the songs, it all offers so much to appreciate. Clearly, plenty of time and effort went into remastering the songs. The result is a record full of songs (especially originals) that will fully immerse Bell’s established audiences and more casual fans alike. It is not the last of the record’s most important elements, either. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
From beginning to end, the sequencing of Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained. The whole thing opens on an upbeat note in Bell’s cover of Abbey Lincoln’s ‘I Got Thunder [and it rings]’ but then immediately after changes things up with the much more subdued cover of Al Dubin and Harry Warren’s ‘I’ll string Along With You.’ The gentle, flowing tones from the piano line and the equally subtle work on the drums here makes for a stark contrast to the more energetic approach taken in the record’s opener and ensures audiences’ interest here. What audiences get from that point is another up and down of the album’s energy between the more upbeat modern jazz approach of ‘Harvest Moon’ and the more reserved vibes of the record’s next handful of songs. Things finally pick back up again later in the form of ‘Boa Nova.’ The thing here is that even as the record’s energy picks back up here, it is still controlled to a point with the Latin-tinged approach and style here. So it makes for an interesting transition point in the overall sequencing. ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ pulls things back once more as the album moves into its back end, keeping things interesting. ‘Watch What Happens’ gives audiences another interesting mix of upbeat energy and control in one, which makes for a fine transition point once again, this time to the album’s upbeat finale, ‘The Face I Love.’ The overall picture, looking at all of this, is a record whose sequencing opens and closes the presentation on an upbeat note. Along the way, there are plenty of subtle ups and downs in the songs’ energies and changes even in their stylistic approaches. In other words, the sequencing does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the record’s content and its production. Keeping that in mind, it puts the finishing touch to the record and rounds out its most important elements. When it is considered along with the record’s content and production, all three elements make Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now a presentation that Bell’s established audiences and casual fans alike will find worth experiencing at least once.
Dee Bell’s new compilation record, Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now is a presentation that most audiences will find interesting. Its interest comes in large part through its featured songs. The songs are a relatively rich representation of Bell’s catalog. The songs’ production is of its own note, too. That is because of the aesthetic impact that it has on listeners as they take in the collection. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. That is because of the stability in the songs’ energies that it ensures as the record progresses. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now. All things considered, they make the record a presentation that audiences will agree is worth experiencing at least once.
Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now is available now through Laser Records. More information on the record is available along with all of Dee Bell’s latest news at https://deebell.net.
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