The Sheena Davis Group: Young at Heart (2004)
In his liner notes for the second album by the Sheena Davis Group, Richard Niles of BBC Radio 2 praises songstress Davis’s “perfect intonation, groove-laden emotive phrasing, charming vibrato and tone as clear as a cloudless sky.” Having given the group’s earlier album a generally lukewarm review, I’d say this one is roughly its equivalent. While Davis does have some sharp tools to work with, she remains a work in progress, sounding bright and confident on some numbers (“I Cried for You,” “Only You,” “When I Grow Too Old to Dream”) but less inspired on others, including the title selection, whose reading left me unmoved, as did the ballads “Sentimental Journey“ and “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The “perfect intonation” is in evidence much of the time but articulation can and does present a problem, especially at faster tempos (“Got a Feeling,” “Sway,“ “It Must Be Love”).
Davis and bassist Robert Rickenberg co-wrote “Seasonal Memories,” "Got a Feeling” and “But Hey! That’s Love,” and they’re pleasant enough tunes but no more than that. Rickenberg and drummer Pete Cater, both back from the earlier album, and Steve Holness, replacing fellow NYJO alumnus Tom Cawley at the piano, comprise a sturdy and empathetic back-up crew. Another returnee, guitarist Jim Mullen, blends in nicely on “It Must Be Love,” "Sentimental Journey” and “But Hey! That’s Love,” while another talented guest, trumpeter Guy Barker, is heard on “Seasonal Memories,” “I Cried for You” and “Only You.”
Returning to the liner notes, I’ve long wondered about their purpose. Is it promotional or informational? Niles begins his by asking, “Will anyone buy this record? More specifically, will you buy this record?” Well, if one is reading the liner notes he or she must have already done so, or else received a comp copy, as we reviewers do. So what’s the point of asking? Just thought I’d ask.
As to whether the record is worth investigating, my answer would be a qualified yes, as the pluses do outweigh the minuses and it is by and large an enjoyable session, as was the group’s earlier album, Smile.
Track Listing: Young at Heart; It Must Be Love; Seasonal Memories; Got a Feeling; I Cried for You; Sentimental Journey; Sway; Only You; Up on the Roof; When I Grow Too Old to Dream; But Hey! That
Personnel: Sheena Davis, vocals; Steve Holness, piano; Robert Rickenberg, bass; Pete Cater, drums. Special guests