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amg review
It makes sense that Sylvie Lewis' music projects continental qualities. Born and raised in Great Britain, she has lived in America, Switzerland, Spain and currently resides in Italy. Listening to her music, it's easy to imagine her singing in a stylish café society nightclub on either side of the Atlantic. There's also a timelessness to her cabaret-style jazz that makes it sound like it could have existed anytime between the '30s to the present. She starts off her sophomore outing with the snappily paced "Starsong...What Became of Us," one of several tunes that examines a love affair that didn't end well. Lewis then slows down the pace with the melancholic "Happy Like That." On this Roches-recalling tune, she namedrops Jobim and Johnny Cash while telling off an unsatisfying boyfriend ("You flirt like a married man/The way you do it only the married can."). Her songs are populated with a number of winning bon mots. In "Say in Touch," she describes a man's relationship with his mistress by saying that "He reads her like scriptures/Reads her like Braille." Later, in the Bacharach-ish portrait of a carefree gal pal "Cheap Ain't Free," she slips in the wonderfully colorful line: "We treat a broken heart, parking ticket style/Once you've got one, you can't get another for a little while." Collaborating again with Los Angeles-based chamber pop-ster Richard Swift, Lewis nicely creates a lush musical setting for her tunes without making it overly fussy. A tango beat enlivens "Old Queens, Monet and Me," while keyboards and synthesizers combine with a percussive beat to underscore the uneasy tension on "Your Voice Carries." Two other tunes that are definitely worth noting show up back to back midway through the disc: "Just You" and "Of Course, Isabelle." The former is a gorgeous, optimistic love ode, something of a rarity for this disc. On the latter, Lewis assumes the voice of both a philandering man and his mistress, Isabelle. This sophisticated look at an affair gone stale wouldn't feel out of place on a Broadway stage. "Sophisticated," in fact, is a good word to use to describe Lewis. Her music and lyrics hold a charming sophistication, but she also instills them with a liveliness that circumvents the tunes from turning stodgy and old-fashioned. Translations builds impressively upon her striking debut Tangos and Tantrums, Rovi
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