Lyn Stanley Serves Standards Superbly Sung

Was Mel Tormé a jazz or cabaret singer? Or was he both? Some music "purists" actually argue such things. Mr. Tormé's recorded vocal and interpretive talents demonstrate his ability to work both rooms. He wasn't worried about being pigeonholed one way or the other. Though rhythmically adept and an excellent scat singer, the “Velvet Fog” could also croon.

Listening to newcomer Lyn Stanley's daring double LP I found myself wondering if I was listening to a jazz album or one that would be best described as cabaret—not that it ultimately matters. I just want to accurately describe it here. By "newcomer" I don't mean she's a kid. Stanley's vocal career took off a few years ago but that's another story best told elsewhere.

However you hear it, Ms. Stanley and the album are welcome throwbacks to the era of high concept album-making and gutsy, on-mic performance purity.

The album title and cover photo are sly. "Lost in Romance" as in "romantic loser"? Or. as in the more pleasurable interpretation? The 1940's-style cover photo of a heavily made-up Ms. Stanley sitting atop a piano and looking away forlornly, or regretfully makes you think "romantic loser". But open the gatefold jacket or look at the back cover and there’s a smiling, joyful Stanley in one case singing into the microphone and in the other looking up at an image of her ballroom dancing which is another of her talents.

Not coincidentally the fifteen song album begins with “Change Partners” a non-metaphorical Irving Berlin tune introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1933 film “Carefree” and concludes with the Sammy Cahn, James van Huesen chestnut “The Last Dance”, which find the protagonist happily in the arms of her lover.

While annotator Don Heckman finds the opener “an optimistic rendering”, to me, it doesn’t sound that way. When I look at the cover photo and hear Ms. Stanley sing:

Must you dance every dance with the same fortunate man?
You have danced with him since the music began.
Won't you change partners and dance with me?

Must you dance quite so close with your lips touching his face?
Can't you see I'm longing to be in his place?
Won't you change partners and dance with me?

It smacks of desperation not optimism! But that’s just me. Sure it ends with her singing:

Won't you change partners and then,
You may never want to change partners again

But how many of us have been in that place, saying that knowing it ain’t gonna happen!

In between, the song choices are a mix of oft-covered numbers from “The Great American Songbook”, Broadway and a few contemporary tunes that I don’t think best display Ms. Stanley’s considerable interpretive talents.

The ballads like “The Nearness of You”, “You Go To My Head,” “My Foolish Heart” and “One For My Baby” work the best. They are ones around which Ms. Stanley can really wrap her voice and exert her phrasing excellence.

The sly, mid-tempo “Too Close For Comfort” allows Stanley to show that she can also swing freely, push out the power and then deftly draw it back. For me, it’s one of the album’s vocal showcases.

Stanley has a blast with the mischievous “What Am I Going to Do With a Bad Boy Like you?”, a new tune by 90+ year old Ruth Gibson and Pat Rizzo.

May 7th Stanley will be playing New York’s Metropolitan Room accompanied by a trio led by pianist Mike Renzi who’s worked with Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé and Tony Bennett and I can just see her picking on a guy at a ringside table (if the “jazz cabaret” room has them) and aiming the song at him.

Stanley channels her inner Bette Midler/Mae West on a tune that’s got at least some borscht belt DNA. She ends it by saying she’ll turn into a man a “bad, bad boy like you” and you’ll know when you hear it that she means it—and what she means!

I less want to hear Willie Dixon’s salacious “I Just Want to Make Love to You” turned white-bread or a cover of George Harrison’s “Something”, but that’s just me.

Stanley’s proper pronunciation and clear diction as when she sings “I don’t know, no I don’t know” or “you’d better believe and how!” come across as too “lounge-y” for my rock sensibilities. I hear Bill Murray lurking.

She moves from there to the finale and again she’s 100% in her element to navigate a perfect landing on this impressive in every way debut.

The small ensemble piano, bass, drum arrangements augmented by guitar, brass and reeds are models of classic clarity that manage to not get in Stanley’s way, while providing their own independent listening pleasures.

As for the album’s sonics, let’s start with how Stanley’s voice is recorded, or better, how she allowed her voice to be recorded, or better yet how she obviously insisted upon how her voice be recorded and that is directly and at close range into the microphone and from there to the mix without “a net” of a lot of reverb or any other kind of signal processing that can cover for less than perfect intonation and phrasing.

That is why I called this album “daring”. Stanley gets in front of the microphone and you hear it all up close and very personal. From that intimate setting, like a figure skater going for the Gold, she takes chance upon chance, letting it all hang out and every time landing solidly on her feet.

You will not hear a more naturally recorded female voice than you’ll hear on the record. At least I haven’t, which is made all the more amazing considering its high resolution Pro Tools origin. The same goes for the instrumental tracks.

If Pro Tools can sound this three dimensional, this texturally solid and this “non-digital”, does that mean that most Pro Tools recordings, which sound so awful (and they do) result from inept engineering and mixing? What other explanation can there be? Stanley’s next recorded project will be to analog tape so the comparison will be interesting.

Meanwhile, I don’t care what’s in your record collection, this one will head near or to the top as among the best sounding in your collection. Lost In Romance is one album where the outstanding sound is matched by the music making. I’m not saying if you are a metal-rocker Lyn Stanley is going to convert you to jazz-cabaret, but maybe.

Given the pristine recording, the ideal mix by the great Al Schmitt at Capitol Studios, the mastering by Bernie Grundman (with Lyn Stanley), the gatefold packaging and numbered, limited edition, double 45rpm 180g Pallas pressing (the album’s also available as a DSD download), it’s clear Stanley is bidding for a home in the female vocalist-friendly “audiophile” market. Mission accomplished (high resolution sample file posting here shortly).

Music Direct Buy It Now

COMMENTS
audiof001's picture

Lyn has a great voice that's captured well with this damn fine recording. Like Lyn? Give this one a listen: Margareta Bengtson's ”En gång i Stockholm”.  It might also be the same album as 'Where The Midnight Sun Never Sets' ( I don't speak Swedish). It's been blowing my mind all month. I'd love to hear either/both on vinyl.

Steelhead's picture

Thanks for the review Mikey.  As one who has spun Julie London (rip from cd, but what can a poor boy do?) in the past month I am looking forward to this.

AND, would appreciate a review of the newly released Orbison four? disc monument set that has just been released on vinyl

As Brittany would say, WORK BITCH!!!!!!!!!

Cheers!

Sticky Whettfart's picture

So please tell us how a Pro Tools recording is available as a DSD download.

Superfuzz's picture

She doesn't have to tell us... the information is on the downloadsnow.net site she linked to... but I'll save you the trouble: "the DSD was mastered from the PCM files through an analog console to create the DSD files."

 

Now, we're all waiting with baited breath for you to tell us why you think there are flaws in this process.... no, not really, I'm kidding!

Sticky Whettfart's picture

Please tell me the benefit of sending PCM through analog to capture to DSD.

destinationsound's picture

Hi there, I wanted to try and answer the reasons for converting from PCM to DSD.

Being apart of a recording team that works with DSD, we have done many tests of simply upsampling a PCM file to DSD and A/B testing to see if there is even a difference.

That alone does make a slight difference. I'm no scientist so i can't begin to explain why but as an audio engineer i can hear a difference (as can my Colleagues).

When Taking a song through an analog process and then converting to a different format, the music will take on the characteristics of any gear within the chain. If the song was mastered using my 1992 cassette boom box it probably would degrade the sound and not add good "flavor". =-)  If, however, it goes to a classic Neve console, the "flavor" might be pleasing.

Now, the question, is it worth it to convert up to DSD? well, there are a few reasons why 'yes' is the answer.

1. Quality: If mastered well (and the fact that DSD does improve the sound slightly) coupled with the flavor of the analog gear, the sound will increase and be pleasing. If I'm not mistaken this album was mastered by Bernie Grundman. In the industry he is all of our heroes for mastering.

2. Convenience: Delivering a PCM recording as DSD is in part convenient for the music lover (customer). I know for me if I am building my whole setup around DSD, it is just easier to have all files in ONE format.

3. Future: It will help pioneer the road for future releases recorded natively to DSD. The better question is "Why is PCM getting converted down to MP3 for iTunes?" =-) If we are going up to DSD rather than down to MP3 it is a step in the right direction and eventually DSD recorders will find their way into all studios.

4. Size: DSD as a container for delivering Hi Res audio via the internet is smaller than 24bit 192kHz (and to my ears sounds better than 192kHz). This allows for faster download speeds and less hard drive storage. Win Win in my book.

We must remember as audio lovers we can be purist and lonely or embrace the opportunity to bring newcomers into our circle and let the movement for quality grow.

Apologies for the lengthy response hope it helps out!

Sticky Whettfart's picture

Thanks for your response, it was quite informative.

destinationsound's picture

Im glad it helped yes

my new username's picture

re: #1

History and experience have taught us that different formats deserve different masterings. Nevertheless it's interesting to read that the DSD iteration warranted an analog stage, whereas perhaps Grundman didn't think so for his original PCM version. (Or maybe he did, as PCM recordings are often run though analog tape deck electronics pre or post mixing, for "flavor.")

re: #2

If for whatever reason your system reproduces DSD better than PCM, that alone justifies DSD, all else being equal.

re: #3

Who needs a DSD recorder when there are no DSD mixing solutions? That is the practical reason why analog or PCM recorders are used.

re: #4

There's more than one type of DSD file. The higher-spec'd ones aren't smaller than a 24/192 file.

Bonus #5

For whatever inexplicable reason, your site offers the PCM versions as WAV. For reasons of bandwidth cost, compatibility or features (hello, like metadata??) WAV isn't justifiable nor defensible. At all.

Michael Fremer's picture

Can't you come up with something less disgusting? One "Assmilk" was enough. How about Nyce Firmturd or something....

Sticky Whettfart's picture

Sorry bout dat. Who said it was a pseudonymn?blush

Lyn Stanley's picture

To reply to Sticky's question:

The mastering files of my album, Lost In Romance, were submitted to Cookie Marenco of DownloadsNOW.net and she re-mastered the tracks, her way, to DSD format for downloads on her website.  She is offering Lost In Romance in 192/24 and DSD for the discriminating ear.  Cookie is the only DSD download site owner that is a real recording engineer.  She spent years at Windam and that was her job.

Thanks to Steelhead...you won my heart.heart  And, yes, Julie London is one of my favorites too.  Wait until you hear my next album...it will have Cry Me a River on it.  

Many thanks to Michael Fremer for this most appreciated review!  My next album, in the works, "Potions," and it will be a tribute to the 1950s decade and recorded at both Capitol Records in LA and Avatar Studio in NYC--as an original analog recording.

Sticky Whettfart's picture

Ms. Stanley, Thank You for the pleasure of your reply.

Lovely album. Just was wondering out loud as to why a format conversion to DSD other thant to apeal to the new DSD fetish among audiophiles, since it is not a native DSD recording. Thanks again for such beautiful art, regardless of format.

Superfuzz's picture

Another fuddy duddy audiophile type wink.... why dwell on formats? It's available in several... if you don't like DSD, fantastic - get the PCM version. But trying to bait the artist herself into such a discussion...seriously?

Sticky Whettfart's picture

Uh, no...no fuddy duddy audiophile here. Who said I don't like DSD? I love DSD.

My questions why convert 192 Khz PCM to DSD? To what end?

The answer is to ride the absurd DSD wave that is in fashion. Any format conversion degrades the sound.

Who said I was trying to bait an artist into a discussion. You really over step, My original question was directed at MF, who posted the information.

Steelhead's picture

First, after viewing the album cover, I just need to know when to pick you up at the Anchorage Airport.  But seriously it is just a kick to hear from you the artist. Very Groovy.

I bought the viny on Amazon today (Soundstage direct should carry this but it is not listed???) and am looking forward to lighting the candles, lowering the light and listening to your artistry.  tubes and vinyl, ahhhh yes!!

Wishing you all the best on your album!!

Steelhead's picture

Amazon canceled the order as it is out of stock.

Will purchase the vinyl gladly as I am really looking forward to spinning this.

Hello Larry Casey,

We're writing to inform you that your order from CD Baby has been canceled because the item you purchased is out of stock. Please return and place your order again at a later time. We're sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. In most cases, you pay for items when we ship them to you, so you won't be charged for items that are canceled.*

Order Details

Order #116-1093318-5337818
Placed on Friday, February 14, 2014

Sold by CD Baby

Cancel Reason: Out of Stock

Lyn Stanley's picture

I am sorry for your trouble with Amazon, Mr. Casey.  If you do an internet search on Google for Lost In Romance, for instance, the other vinyl distributors Michael Fremer mentions will show up and they have stock.  CdBaby had a just few vinyl, but they perferred to stock my Cds.  My website has more details-www.lynstanley.com

Hope this helps.   

Jim Tavegia's picture

It was nice to have Ms. Stanley stop by the site.  Best of luck with your albums. 

Lyn Stanley's picture

...I appreciate your note!  

Martin's picture

The double vinyl 45 rpm. 

And most likely the 192/24 download as well. 

If I didn't drop by here I would never have known either Lyn Stanley or the record existed.

Lyn Stanley's picture

Martin--I so appreciate your support via purchases and grateful Michael's review hooked us up!!wink  Enjoy!!  

Jim Tavegia's picture

So the power just went out at my house near Hotlanta...go figure, so we will see what I have to do to restore my order as paypal was in the middle of the process. I can't complain as power was only out here from 8:30am until 1:30pm today. Unfortunately others will not be so lucky. 

Is that a photo with Al Schmitt on the back cover of your booklet? 

Lyn Stanley's picture

Glad you noticed, dear Al Schmitt and me during the two days he mixed the album. Al and I are about to get together again later on this month to begin recording my new album "Potions."  

Jim, I lived in Hotlanta for quite a while...loved everything about it.  I try to incorporate some of the southern lessons I learned from there into my phrasing.  I also began my journey as an Amateur ballroom dancer in Atlanta in 2004.  By 2010, I was a USA champion in a Pro/Am partnership (I was still the Am).  Hence, the dancer rhythms in my music.

Sticky Whettfart's picture

Thanks for your response, it was quite informative.

jazz and cocktails's picture

thanks Michael, looks like a great disc, I'd love to hear it, the question is where and how?

 

the music direct link at the end of the review directs to a "page not found" page on analogplanet.   someone referenced "cookie's site", by which i inferred bluecoast.  nope.  it's not on HDTracks, Qobuz, or Hiresaudio.  a search with the albumname + download brings up only mp3s.

i appreciate this is an analog centric site, but still, we shouldn't have to work so hard to find the music you review, particularly in a thread graced by the artist's presence.

also, i'm registered on audiostream and stereophile; why the need to re-register to post here?

Michael Fremer's picture

Sorry about link. It's fixed. As for where it's available for purchase other than the vinyl at Music Direct and the other vinyl vendors. The artist provided the information about the DSD download site.

I plan on uploading a high resolution file from vinyl of a track from this record....as soon as I finish my Stereophile writing for this month.

As for registering here, each of the websites is an independent entity so yes, you have to register for each one.

Jim Tavegia's picture

With Sony DVD Architect Studio 5.0  ($39) I burned Lyn's 2496 files to DVD-r and they sound great.  Wish the music download was easier, but it is done and I have some great tunes to listen to today. 

Trace's picture

Elusive Disc has the limited  and numbered edition available. Edition of 500.

Steelhead's picture

Ordered from Elusive Disc today. They also had media shipping available which was a nice option.

Really looking forward to spinning this.

Devil Doc's picture

Unfortunatly the music isn't my cup of tea. Wouldn't consider singing the Blues, would ya Ms Stanley?

Lyn Stanley's picture

 Yes, on my next album, Potions,  "The Thrill Is Gone"..will be on it.  Will that medicine help?  Thank you for your note!

Trace's picture

Elusive Disc has the limited numbered editions available @ $39.99.

Evan's picture

I'm so impressed that Lyn came on your blog and with such grace I went to Acousticsounds and ordered an autographed album.

fullvolume's picture

I was going to order the autographed vinyl from Ms.Lyn Stanley but shipping to Canada is $30 ! yikes!

I also had same problem with Amazon.

Lyn Stanley's picture

Thanks to FullVolumne I contacted my webmaster and think we have the shipping issue resolved for North America.  

DC's picture

I had the absolute pleasure of being in the Saskia room (9009) at RMAF this past October 2013 when Ms. Stanley entered and politely asked if her LP could be played. (If memory serves me correctly, she said she had not yet actually heard the LP version.) It was quickly cued up, but at 33! :-) We all had a good chuckle while the turntable was reset to 45 and and settled in to listen to "Beware My Foolish Heart" and were immediately captivated - the room burst into applause for her when the song was over! It was quite an unforgettable moment.

As I finish typing this message, I'm ordering a signed copy - I've been looking for this LP set to be released. Hooray!

Brava to Ms. Stanley for a superb addition to the repertoire and bravo to Mr. Fremer for his enthusiastic review for an appreciative audience.

Lyn Stanley's picture

I appreciate the reflection on a wonderful moment in time..it was magical.

AnalogJ's picture

Lyn, if you're still reading this, how would we obtain a signed copy of the vinyl?

 

Jeff

AnalogJ's picture

Lyn, if you're still reading this, how would we obtain a signed copy of the vinyl?

 

Jeff

Lyn Stanley's picture

Hi Jeff:

Acoustic Sounds has some signed ones in the mail due to arrive this week. Pricing should be reasonable. As to personal copies signed by me, seriously, I only have numbers 3-20/500 left (I am keeping 1,2) from first pressing on my website.  I am asking a pretty price for these lower numbers because I have held them back to help me finance my next album.  Music making is an expensive venture especially the way I do it by using only the best. 

Thanks for asking..

Lyn

pghmusiclover's picture

 

I wholeheartedly disagree with you in regards to the contemporary songs included on this fine recording.  Don't get me wrong, I love the old standards, but I love when singers turn to more contemporary fare and search out "new standards".  My favorite on this recording would be "Sugar On The Floor", followed closely by "Losing My Mind" and "Something".  It is up to the current generation of singers to find their OWN standards and not just cover what's gone before. There are excellent modern songwriters from the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's in the worlds of pop, rock, folk and stage and their work should be mined to open the ears of a younger generation to the fine art of interpretative singing.

Michael Fremer's picture

Really. I appreciate your comment and I hope Lyn reads it!

Lyn Stanley's picture

I am grateful for all of the comments about my album on this blog, Michael.  I think your fans are absolutely the most wonderful possible.  Of course, I love that my song picks touched a heart or two..that's my mantra. Losing My Mind is a first for the jazz market..think I am the only one to record it to a samba rhythm.

In my 1950s Potions album, I am touching on composers of the decade--and I am taking a risk again--within jazz arena and listeners at large.  Included will be an amazing jazz version of You Don't Know Me, plus Love Potion #9 and then jazz standards like Lullaby of Birdland and Cry Me A River.  I am mixing up the pro forma, but that is where you get to be creative as an artist. Then you pray it works.

I am beginning my recording of Potions at Capitol Records this week with Al Schmitt.  I am going to try to get a video done from the session because we are going to do a sound comparison between analog tape and ProTools.  Should be an interesting comparison for all of us.

pghmusiclover's picture

That's what I find interesting is some of the more typical standards, mixed in with some more adventurous fare!  "Love Potion #9" sounds like a cool choice! Most definitely looking forward to "Potions"! 

Devil Doc's picture

I'm curious about the cover photo. Were you intentionally going for the Marlene Dietrich look, because you sure succeeded.

Lyn Stanley's picture

In developing the Lost In Romance project, I assessed that the European market might be more receptive to a singer whom, as Michael said, "isn't a kid."  Hence, capturing an icon from their culture that represented a true international singer was my cover photo goal. I thought they would give me, newcomer, a chance I might not get from US's youth culture.  All that was before I knew about the audiophile/music lovers market in the US who are more open-minded and support great sound, regardless.  

The photo is actually me on top of my personal piano, a Japan made Kawaii Rx3. My mentor, jazz legend, Paul Smith has played on this piano and loved it.  The shot was taken in a studio apartment I rented in Hollywood during 2012 while gearing up for my recording sessions at Conway Studio.  I barely got into this 400 sq foot apt with my 6'1" piano once the Murphy bed was lowered. It was quite a comedy act.  The wallpaper behind me was on the wall, albeit, my graphic artist added the palm overlay.

Indydan's picture

Hello Lyn. As a photographer, I have to say that is a very nice image of you on the album cover. Lovely and graceful!

I got my copy of your album a few days ago. Wow! Very nice. I love jazz and I know most of these songs; having heard many renditions of each over the years. I really like what you have done with them! It is a beautiful album; a joy to listen to, and a warm touch on these cold winter days (in my area of the world).

I will be in Montreal next summer for the big jazz festival. Is there any chance you can get booked to play a concert? If so, I will be happy to see and hear you sing in person!

Take care Lyn! smiley

quadlover's picture

Thank you Mikey for directing us to this excellent album.  I downloaded the 192/24 yesterday (sorry I gave up on analog years ago) and love it.  

More importantly, a big thank you to Lyn Stanley for making such a great album!

quadlover's picture

Thank you Mikey for directing us to this excellent album.  I downloaded the 192/24 yesterday (sorry I gave up on analog years ago) and love it.  

More importantly, a big thank you to Lyn Stanley for making such a great album!

Pages

X