… just in time for Valentines Day

With his Concord Records debut album — I’ll Take Romance — Tyrell delivers the romantic goods in boatloads.

Superbly produced, this LP weaves an interesting path through classic standards, R&B numbers and blues ballads … capturing both the tortured and the joyous affairs of the heart.

The track list of classic and newer standards ride comfortably on the back of Bob Mann’s wonderful “Bacharachian” arrangements … and often his crisp, classic jazz guitar accompaniment as well.

This is good stuff.

As expected…

Tyrell not only brings his distinctive vocal stylings to I’ll Take Romance, but as you would expect he exercises his Grammy award winning producer skill set to great affect. Steve collaborates with long-time friends Bob Mann and Jon Allen on this, his first Concord effort … rendering a best-of-breed production with a rich, round vocal track —  elegantly threaded in and around Mann’s balanced scores.

The sound staging is both expansive and exacting … Steve and every instrument in place, offering a warm natural clarity without appearing too forward or competing. Again, perfect balance … very nice.

To put this production quality into perspective, I saw Steve Tyrell twice in 2011 at gigs in Austin and Houston. He performed all of these songs in those shows, and listening to I’ll Take Romance in prep for this review was just like taking in another Tyrell concert appearance.

The guy can sing too!

We need to come up with a nickname for ST. Mel Tormé’s vocal distinction made him into the “The Velvet Fog” … Tyrell’s sultry, smokey, bluesy vocal style is unique and equally distinctive. Somebody needs to get him “marketed up” with a cool nickname!

Tyrell knows how to select songs that match his unique vocal style. He plies his song selection acumen to great advantage with a tour tested song list on I’ll Take Romance. It’s hard to call out special tracks off this list — they’re all extra primo.

Starting and ending with the classics…

Steve opens with “At Last” — the only song on the LP NOT arranged by Bob Mann, but rather Alan Broadbendt. Bob does offer some very nice guitar in this number … along with Quinn Johnson’s piano, they beautifully support Steve’s lilting version of Etta James’ signature song.

© Tina Tyrell

The next four tracks fall in to the classic camp … a sultry “That’s All”; “Taking a Chance on Love” (the song Steve expected to be the title track back in the summer); “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” and the deserving title track “I’ll Take Romance” that ST shares with an equally sultry/bluesy Judith Hill.

Tyrell closes with his hyper popular wedding singer hit “The Way You Look Tonight”. I tend to shy away from songs that are trendily popular … a function of over exposure I suspect, but that’s not the case here.

Sinatra’s version of this song is in the top five of my all time favorites (the other four of which change to suit my mood. Which means it’s more like a top 20 … but you get the point) … any way, Steve sort of revisualizes this song as a smooth jazz number and it works well.

The chewy center…

…of this album contains titles with a more R&B/Blues lineage — though they’re still rendered with the great string arrangements, Bob’s guitar and the wonderfully interleaved piano and horns that suffuse the entire LP. My favorites here are the Little Willie John blues number “Talk To Me”, a breezy “Burt-bossa-nova-rach” version of “All of You” and a smoothly styled R&B play — “A Love That Will Last”.

So … can there be any doubt?

My recommendation … buy this LP. The combination of classic American Songbook numbers and R&B-come-classic standards — beautifully produced — make I’ll Take Romance a “gotta have”.

If you’re a current Steve Tyrell fan … well, odds are you already own it so I don’t need to chat you up. If you’re new to ST or only recently acquainted, this is a great album to snag and take your romance to the next level!

I’ll Take Romance — Steve Tyrell; Track List

(VS_Guy ratings: “+++” pluses are good; “~” for meh to middling;  “- – -” minuses are not good)

1. At Last 3:52 +++ (ST’s bluesy voice plays almost too good here; great piano and guitar accompaniment… get used to it!)
2. That’s All 4:04 ++++ (Another perfect song selection for Steve’s vocal style … perfect strings … Bob’s guitar)
3. Taking a Chance on Love 2:39 +++ (Here come the horns … a very nice classic number)
4. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons 3:33 ++ (Classic smooth rendering)
5. I’ll Take Romance 2:54 ++ (Judith Hill “sultryfies” this one to another level)
6. Talk to Me, Talk to Me 4:06 ++++ (Elegant, bluesy … a wheelhouse Tyrell love song)
7. You Turn Me Around 3:11 ++ (Nice)
8. A Love That Will Last 3:39 +++ (R&B love song taken for a ride in Burt Bacharach’s caddy!)
9. All of You 3:41+++ (One more time… Burt-bossa-nova-rach!)
10. Trust in Me 4:04 ++ (Another wheelhouse but my least favorite song on the LP … still a ++!)
11. Don’t Know Much 3:09 +++ (A sleeper … lays great for ST vocals … really nice arrangement)
12. The Way You Look Tonight 4:32 +++ (I know it’s too popular … but it’s also a damn good song!)

 

 

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  • Rob

    Steve Tyrell has the delivery of Frank Sinatra, the soul of Ray Charles and the range of Billy Ekstein. What a talent !!!

    • vs_guy

      Indeed Rob. Tyrell’s distinctive vocal style in combination with his blues, motown, R&B heritage truly stands him apart from the pack. Plus the guy clearly loves what he’s doing and that’s just fun to watch.

      BTW, You are the winner of my “I’ll Take Romance” CD give away! I’ll ping you via email and follow-up on shipping to you.

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