I recently reviewed an outstanding album of boleros sung by Raquel Bitton. Irene Nachreiner reminds me of Bitton because she takes an entirely opposite approach vibratoless, lighthearted, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek. At least I think, "I put your stuff outside with grace 'cause I needed the closet space," is tongue-in-cheek. The line is from one of three clever originals on the release.
The backup for Nachreiner's vocals ranges from quartet to sextet. Most of her arrangements feature a Brazilian vibe. The fine LA Latin sideman and leader Scott Martin appears on eight of fourteen tracks playing either sax or flute. Most of the other musicians are native South Americans. Brazilians Rique Pantoja and Marco Tulio have a majority of the brief non-woodwind solo shots.
The album's groove is always relaxed and good-natured. Reliable Brazilian tunes include "Like a Lover" of Sergio Mendes fame and "Quiet Nights" and "Triste" by Jobim. The Gershwin and Porter standards are treated to Latin rhythms. " 'S Wonderful" becomes charmingly naïve and "It's too Darn Hot" is sung with a wink and a smile. Sting's Fragililidad adds to the eclectic mix as does a winning cover of Clapton's hit "Change the World."
Usually in English but sometimes in French, Spanish or Portuguese, Irene has the spotlight here, so a listener's reaction to the release will depend on how they feel about her singing. I can easily recommend the album to fans of Jobim and Gilberto and the unadorned style of many of their interpreters. Others may feel her catchy sense of rhythm, dead-on intonation, and blithely cheerful delivery are spoiled by a decidedly lightweight, vibratoless voice. It works for me, though I do believe a touch of Bitton's wobble would make it even better.