Stilwell’s New Record Is A Positive Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Covers Sets

Courtesy: Jazz Promo Services

Jazz singer Laura Stilwell released her new record this week.  The record, a covers compilation titled Out Of A Dream, was released independently Tuesday.  The eight-song record will appeal to a wide range of audiences, as it lifts from a variety of acts.  That is proven right from the outset of the 34-minute record in the form of Stilwell’s cover of ‘Day In, Day Out.’  This performance will be discussed shortly.  Stilwell’s take of ‘Don’t Be That Way’ is another notable addition to the record and will be examined a little later.  ‘A Time For Love,’ the album’s closer, is yet another notable addition to the collection and will also be examined later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  When they are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes the set another covers collection that is worth hearing at least once.

You Stepped Out Of A Dream is an enjoyable new addition to this year’s field of new covers collection.  Even being a covers set, it is a presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.  The record’s opener, a cover of ‘Day In, Day Out’ is just one way in which this is proven.  Originally composed jointly by Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom in 1939, the song has gone on to become a standard in the American songbook.  It has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, and Mel Torme just to name a few notable singers.  Even the likes of Bing Crosby, Artie Shaw, and Tony Bennett have recorded the song, showing even more, its reach.  Stilwell gives the song its own interesting identity, opting for the intimacy of a quartet instead of, say, the big band style approach taken by Artie Shaw and his orchestra and Johnny Mathis and his fellow musicians, as well as so many other performers and acts.  The simplicity of Stilwell’s vocals alongside the performance of Tommy James on piano, and Perry Thoorsell on bass gives the song the familiar big band swing that so many other acts have used for the song.  The thing is that the group does so within its own confines of its instrumentation.  James’ runs make for great solo moments while Thoorsell and drummer Ron Steen expertly compliment his work.  The energy that the group exudes makes this rendition just as much kick as any big band rendition of the song past and present while still staying as true as possible to its source material.  It is just one of the songs that makes the record worth hearing.  The collective’s update of ‘Don’t Be That Way’ is just as worth examining.

Originally jointly composed by Benny Goodman, Mitchell Parish, and Edgar Sampson in 1938, the song is an upbeat composition that would have easily gotten audiences on the dance floor with its blend of horns and woodwinds.  The group’s big band composition is toned down by Stilwell and her fellow performers here while still staying mostly true to its source material.  Instead of going the full nines here, Stilwell and company opt once again for a more intimate approach, with Stilwell leading the way.  The richness and warmth of Goodman’s clarinet line, performed here by Dave Evans gives the arrangement a certain heart that itself still harkens back to some of Goodman’s more intimate compositions.  It is like opening a time capsule from that era and hearing the music playing from so many ages ago.  James’ work on the piano and that of bassist Dennis Caiazza and Steen offer just the right amount of accent to the intimate arrangement.  The whole makes the arrangement an interesting new take on yet another work that is part of the American songbook.  Additionally, it is just one more way in which the record proves itself worth hearing at least once.  The group’s take on ‘A Time For Love’ is yet another example of what makes the collection engaging and entertaining.

Originally composed by Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster in 1966 for the movie, An American Dream, the song has been re-imagined by a wide range of acts, such as Matt Monro, Stan Getz, and Bill Evans just to name a few notable performers.  Even Tony Bennett has crafted his own take on the classic composition.  The rendition that Stilwell and company present in this record is closely akin to those of Evans and Bennett, what with its gentle, flowing piano line and even more subtle rhythm section alongside Stilwell’s warm vocal timbre.  The whole makes this song a perfect piece for any couple’s most romantic moments and just as enjoyable as any other more well-known jazz artist’s take on the song.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes the compilation in whole fully engaging and entertaining.

Out Of A Dream is a successful new offering from jazz singer Laura Stilwell. The set proves itself interesting through each one of its featured covers.  The songs examined here do their own part to support the noted statement.  When they are considered along with the rest of the record’s works, the whole makes the record overall a positive addition to this year’s field of new covers collections.

Out Of A Dream is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Laura Stilwell’s latest news at:



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‘Under The Pepper Tree’ Is A Successful First Family Music Outing For Sara Watkins

Courtesy: New West

Singer-songwriter Sara Watkins has made quite the name for herself over the years as a member of the bluegrass group Nickel Creek and as part of the Watkins Family Hour and I’m With Her.  Now this Friday, Watkins will take her first step into another phase of her career with her debut family music album, Under the Pepper Tree.  The 15-song first outing is a presentation that will appeal to her fans and those of one Diana Panton.  That is due in part to the song’s that make up the album’s body.  They will be discussed shortly.  The musical arrangements that Watkins employs throughout the album add to its appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of that overall content puts the finishing touch to the record and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, Sarah Watkins’ debut family music album is a successful offering that the whole family will indeed enjoy.

Sara Watkins’ debut family music album is a work that the whole family truly will enjoy.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The songs in question are a selection of songs from various classic movies.  Bob Nolan’s ‘Tumblin’ Tumbleweed,’ from Gene Autry’s 1935 movie by the same name is featured here along with the likes of ‘Edelweiss’ from 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Rodgers &  Hammerstein’s musical, The Sound of Music (1965), and ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ from Disney’s classic Pinocchio (1940).  Also represented here is ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, Carousel (1956); ‘La la Lu’ from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955) and even ‘Moon River’ from Paramount Pictures’ 1961 movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  There is even an original tune in the form of the album’s title track along with everything else.  The songs will relate to listeners of all ages because they are all timeless works that the noted audiences will remember.  Given, parents will recognize some of the songs more than children, but that aside, those songs will still entertain younger listeners.

On another level, that some of the songs (and their related movies) will connect more with older audiences than with children. That in itself serves as a starting point for older audiences to offer younger listeners the most basic introduction to so many classic musicals and movies.  That early introduction could help lead to a lifelong love for said presentations.  So while on the surface, the songs make up a collective of soundtrack works, they actually can and do serve an even greater purpose, bringing families together while building a foundation and love for the great timeless works of stage and screen from entertainment’s golden age.  To that end, the songs featured in this compilation form a solid foundation for the record itself.  It is just one part of what makes the recording so enjoyable.  The arrangements that Watkins chose for these songs adds to the record’s overall appeal.

Watkins largely stays true to the source material in each song that she features in her new record, from one to the next.  For all of that honor that Watkins pays to the original works, she still gives them her own nice touch.  Case in point is her take on ‘Stay Awake.’  Originally featured as one of the songs from Disney’s 1964 musical adaptation of author P.L. Travers’ novel Mary Poppins, the song was a gentle lullabye crafted by  the famed Sherman Brothers, Richard and Robert.  It featured Julie Andrews’ absolutely stunning vocal control alongside some even more subtle strings.  Watkins’ take on the song would have fit just as well into that movie.  It is just as moving with its piano line joining with the strings to make the song even richer.  Watkins’ over vocal delivery is so powerful in its simplicity here, too.  Ironically though being a lullaby, Watkins’ take on the song is enough to make even the most emotionally strong man blubber like a baby.  That is a telling statement. 

On a different note, Watkins’ take on Bob Nolan’s ‘Tumbling Tumblewood’ stays even truer to its source material, complete with fiddle and the slightest touch of a slide guitar.  Of course, gone are the clip-clop of the horse hoofs and the string arrangement featured in the original song performed by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers.  Instead, Watkins has opted here for the more spit-shined take that even what with everything in mind, the song still sounds quite a bit like something that one might hear playing in the old honky tonk joints of country music’s golden era.  To that point, it is still its own unique arrangement.

‘Moon River’ is another example of the importance of the musical arrangements featured in Watkins’ new record.  Her take on the song does stay true to its source material for the most part, stylistically.  Though there are some subtle differences between the original version composed by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and sung by Audrey Hepburn, and Watkins’ take.  Right off the bat, the string arrangements and the harmonica featured in the original are absent in Watkins’ rendition.  They are replaced here by the subtle addition of a Hammond organ.  Watkins’ own vocal delivery bears its own identity here.  Her delivery is just as soft and gentle as that of Hepburn and almost as airy.  That whole set against the whole of the original makes Watkins’ take here just as interesting as the other covers featured in the compilation.  When those other songs are considered with this arrangement and the others examined here, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the recording’s overall musical content.  When that content is considered along with the featured songs themselves, that whole gives listeners even more to like.  When all of that is considered along with the record’s sequencing, the record is rounded out and completed.

The sequencing of Under the Pepper Tree keeps the album’s energy light from beginning to end of its 36-minute run time, starting off relaxed in her take of ‘Blue Shadows on the Trail.’  The energy really does not pick back up until late in the album’s run in Watkin’s take of ‘Blanket for a Sail.’  Up until that point, the energy remains relatively reserved.  It pulls back again from there right up to the album’s finale, ‘Good Night.’  So basically what audiences get overall due to the sequencing here, is a record that will serve to relax any listener.  As a matter of fact, one might even be able to use the record to help get to sleep being that the record’s energy is so gentle.  Between that, the unique takes on the songs and the very selection of songs, the whole makes the record in whole a work that is a truly successful family music album.

Sara Watkins’ debut family music album Under the Pepper Tree is a positive new offering that the whole family will indeed enjoy.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs, the majority of which are timeless songs that are themselves featured in some of the most famous and beloved movies of all time.  The arrangements that Watkins presents here are themselves important to the record’s presentation.  They stay largely true to their source material but also give the songs the slightest of updates, making for even more appeal.  The sequencing of this overall content keeps the record’s energy relatively light and reserved throughout the record’s nearly 40-minute run time.  That means the record’s overall energy will keep listeners relaxed.  That will result in a positive mindset for any listener.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, they make the record in whole a successful first family music outing for Sarah Watkins.  Under the Pepper Tree is scheduled for release Friday through New West Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Watkins’ latest news at:




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