Laura Ainsworth: You Asked For It

Dallas-based singer and sextet play audience favourites including Cry Me A River, Goldfinger, Isn't It Romantic and Over The Rainbow

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You certainly did. Singers more than instrumentalists are vulnerable to audience requests. Texan songster Laura Ainsworth has decided to accede still further by recording the frequent ones, much as a concert pianist might bring out an album of encores. Not that such actions will pre-empt further calls from the stalls.

One wonders if the requests are as much for the songs as for the singer. And for those listeners who have never had the opportunity or the desire to hear a chart sung by Ainsworth again – that’s if they’ve already heard her singing it – this album almost by definition will be the singer at her most popular if not necessarily at her best. It’s therefore a case of a musician putting her reputation on the line.

On this compilation, Ainsworth’s relaxed and more or less unvarying delivery just glides from one chart to the next, offering the listener not so much interpretation as repetition. In many cases, famous songs are associated with famous versions – in this case Cry Me A River with Julie London and Goldfinger with Shirley Bassey – and comparisons, though sometimes odious, are inevitable. That said, Bassey is more melodramatic than jazzy.

Julie London is invoked in the explanation of how You Asked For It came about: London’s 1960 LP Julie At Home was recorded by her and her band after dinner at her home. Similarly, Ainsworth and her pianist-arranger Brian Piper decided to record this album in a studio, with the “request” items on a playlist and no audience to shout for them.

The result is well-orchestrated, loosely arranged and pleasantly sung, with eight numbers prefaced by seldom performed verses. But for this reviewer it plays with emotions rather than stirs them.

Discography
Cry Me A River; All The Things You Are; Goldfinger; Someone To Watch Over Me; Scotch And Soda; As Time Goes By; Isn’t It Romantic; I Can’t Get Started; What’ll I Do?; Once Upon A Time; Love Is Here To Stay; Over The Rainbow (53.19)
Ainsworth (v); Brian Piper (p, arr); Rodney Booth (t, flh); Chris McGuire (ts); Noel Johnston (g); Young Heo (b); Steve Barnes (d). Dallas, no date.
Eclectus Records (Swing City Productions) SCP 6006-1J