You will listen to a lot of CDs before you hear another one with vocals as pretty as those belonging to Gigi MacKenzie. Her 16-track album Skylark should be cut down considerably because you shouldn’t have to give away this much great music so people will buy your album! Although there are some electric notes on this CD, the artist and producer, for the most part, created a great organic sound to the record. Creating that ambiance compliments Mackenzie’s ethereal vocals.
I absolutely loved the lush new arrangements created for George and Ira Gershwin’s "Embraceable You." The whispery background vocals from Carmen Carter, Angie Jareé, Carlos Rios and Terry Wood are unbelievable. The arrangements for this wonderful album were a collaboration of Gigi MacKenzie, Bobby Zee and Llew Matthews. Through the same magic that brought you duets by Nat "King" Cole and Natalie Cole, Bobby Zee brings us Gigi MacKenzie singing a duet with her mother the late Gisele MacKenzie, star of stage and screen. The younger MacKenzie serves notice with "Skylark" that she has indeed not only inherited her mother’s genes but continues to honor the family name with the same excellence.
They say the saxophone comes closest of all the instruments to sounding like the human voice and Robert Kyle reinforces that belief as he blows some sweet and romantic notes for the original "Let’s Make a Go of It." Kyle and his tenor sax have an incredible solo in the middle of this tune. Steve Lawrence put up some luscious charts for this song. Carter, Jareé, Rios and Wood reappear with their silky smooth vocal compliment to MacKenzie as she picks up the tempo on "Cry Me A River." This is our first chance to hear Bruce Watson’s guitar up close and like the other musicians on this album his effortless and carefree playing make you want to close your eyes and hold your sweetheart close.
The strength of this album is the ability of the musicians, arrangers and MacKenzie to add a new dimension to the standards. "Blue Moon" is a perfect example of that new approach. Rather than that bluesy R&B tune that we have enjoyed for so many decades, we are treated to a smoother jazzier version with softer edges. Mike Miller’s acoustic guitar and Robert Kyle’s flute are instrumental (if you will pardon the pun) to creating that airy ambiance.
Tenderly, the tenth track should have been the last breathtaking track on this album. As I said at the beginning of this review, songs such as the splendid guitar and percussion instrumental "Hey There," the title track "Skylark," "Almost Like Being In Love" and others should have been reserved for a future album. So often albums are filled with songs that are not much more than fodder to fill up the tracks, but Skylark doesn’t have a weak song.
There are too many good tracks on this CD to go through them one by one. So let’s just say this if you are looking for some great music to dance to with someone you love or as the background for a romantic evening, you can stop looking. Skylark featuring Gigi MacKenzie is all you need. Chill the wine, make sure you brought flowers, enjoy the music and look deep into her eyes.