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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New albums branch out talent

    A lady finds her prince

    As peculiar as this may sound, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga just released a jazz duet album this last Tuesday. The result is 16 tracks of infused finesse and youthful energy.

    The album begins with the pre-released song that was available for purchase on iTunes, “Anything Goes.” Here, it is established that the two sing with and around each other in a synchronous act. The beat of the song breathes an image of a smoke-filled bar with patrons sipping glasses of scotch.

    Don’t be too surprised after listening to the first song that the Lady Gaga is singing jazz. It’s not her first duet with Tony Bennett, nor the first time she’s sung jazz, either, according to an interview with National Public Radio.

    Her first duet with Bennett was in 2011 on his album Duets II in an equally energized song, “The Lady is a Tramp.” Even then, the enthusiasm of singing next to Bennett comes out in the song and transfers into their rapport as the two work off one another.

    Gaga told NPR that singing with autotune and electronic music can be difficult at times because it’s not natural. In the album, you can hear how freely she sings, along with the invigorating vitality expressed in the songs. As she sings in “Cheek to Cheek,” she and Bennett are obviously “in heaven.”

    “She’s actually a very authentic jazz singer,” said Bennett about Lady Gaga in an interview with NPR. “She’ll make it different because of the moment she’s singing. And so, what happens is it keeps the songs alive.”

    Bennett also said that due to this ability, Gaga brings a sense of intimacy to the album and it seems to last forever.

    But what did Gaga think of her companion? She said when they are not singing together, she sits away from him and watches him sing and perform.

    “I love watching [him] perform,” she said in her interview. “He’s brought out a subtlety in me that I’ve missed for a while, because my life is very noisy.”

    A subtlety expressed through the mentioned intimacy Gaga has built in songs such as “Cheek to Cheek,” “Lush Life,” “Nature Boy,” “But Beautiful” and in the bonus track, “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” Their soft-spoken words seem to seep into one’s ear like velvet.

    Bennett also establishes a close intimacy in the song “Sophisticated Lady,” where his voice crackles with age and emotion, adding to the authenticity that he is speaking to his female companion and his listeners. This effect adds to the overall enjoyment of the song.

    As if the duo could hear the doubtful criticisms of this album, the duet’s songs “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Goody Goody” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” expresses their contentment and skillful ability to sing jazz.

    All grown up, and proud of it

    On Sept. 23, Jackie Evancho’s new album was released with its bold title: Awakening. It has been two years since America has last heard from the 14-year-old when she released her album, Songs from the Silver Screen, which composed of tracks from films within Evancho’s age range.

    Her new album differs from the other in the sense she is modeling it to suit her. It helps that her voice has matured in the two years since her last album, thereby allowing her to attempt other genres.

    “As I get older, my voice is allowing me to sing other genres,” said Evancho, in an interview with the Huffington Post. “But its always been classical crossover or maybe opera, but I could never pull off pop. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to.”

    This is evident in tracks such as “With or Without You” from U2 and “Je T’aime” from the French singer Lara Fabian. In these tracks, Evancho shows her fans she’s stretching her wings with different styles and expanding her vocal range. This is as close to pop that she gets in this album, and she held her own for a first effort.

    Other contemporary examples are “Your Love” from Ennio Morricone, “Memories” from Within Temptation and “The Rains of Castamere” from the TV show “Game of Thrones.”

    As a fan of Within Temptation, I enjoyed Evancho’s rendition of “Memories,” because it shows how far she’s venturing from her comfort zone as she takes a gander at symphonic metal — even though this is one of the band’s slower-paced songs. In this version, the song is paced differently because of Evancho’s singing style. The synthesizers used to create a beat in the background add a mystifying aesthetic and make it less dark.

    Those who are not fans of classical crossover songs can find other songs on the album to enjoy, but the 14-year-old would not be here if she didn’t have at least one song from her beloved inspiration, “The Phantom of the Opera,” composed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The first song on the album is “Think of Me” from the 2004 feature film that was adapted from the musical.

    Of course, this version cuts out the parts of the Italian diva Carlotta and Raoul, and we are left to focus solely on Evancho’s voice. The cadenza in the aria gives her some maturity and shows her vocal range and control over the pitch.

    To show how much her voice has developed, the album has the songs “Ave Maria,” “Dormi Jesu” and “Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14” to showcase her progress. The latter song alone requires sustained words or phrases for great lengths of time.

    The songs’ versatility shows fans that Evancho is branching out with her voice, showing her “awakening” as a musician.

    “[It’s] why the CD is called ‘Awakening,’” said Evancho on the “Today Show.” “It’s about me awakening as an artist and becoming more mature.”

    Follow Ivana Goldtooth on Twitter @goldiechik93

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