Lyn Stanley dazzles on “The Moonlight Sessions Volume Two”


Jazz vocalist Lyn Stanley is set to release part two of her celebrated “The Moonlight Sessions.” Volume two shows the singer honing in on classic sounds and making the most of her well-tuned instrument. “The Moonlight Sessions Volume Two” will be available Oct. 6.

Lyn Stanley, part two

Earlier this year, I reviewed Stanley’s “Moonlight Sessions, volume one.” Admittedly, I was a bit late to the Stanley party. It is impossible to cover every deserving release. However, I am just in time for volume two.

On this release, Stanley stretches her repertoire. There are more classics, and almost all of them are unexpected. From the fun to sing, “Makin’ Whoopee,” to the deeply poignant, “At Seventeen,” and a dozen others in between, Stanley both re-interprets jazz classics, and turns what wasn’t jazz, into her chosen genre.

“Makin’ Whoopee”

Stanley’s approach to this 1928 classic is unique. I couldn’t have imagined the soundscape that is offered here. Brushed drums, harmonica, upright bass, and a clarity to Stanley’s voice, make this vintage jazz new again. The lyrical phrases are played up to highlight the song’s humor. Stanley’s alto sounds flexible and playful, as if it could do anything right now.

“At Seventeen”

Stanley is not the first jazz maven to cover Janis Ian’s folk rock classic from 1975. In fact, I wrote about Sherri Roberts’ lovely version earlier this year. The song’s startling candor lends itself to jazz with its soft sounds and meaningful lyrics. Done right, the instrumentation will be crafted of mostly meshed sounds, with one high-pitched instrument making the occasional searing line for texture. That is what happens here.

Gentle drums and harp round out the soundscape as Stanley gently bends notes to detail the emotional toil not fitting in takes on young women. Here, the instrumentation manages to do what the original accomplished with acoustic guitar. A gentle, rolling soundscape is the perfect backdrop for a song that focuses on the voice. There are no backing vocals, as they are not needed. The lyrics and Stanley’s delivery create the drama. Each word is enunciated to its fullest impact. Stanley’s version is as beautiful and unique as the other two versions with which I am familiar.

It is nice to see a performer develop as an artist from project to project. Stanley’s voice sounds richer than ever, and the song choices highlight her abilities well. The work is thoughtful; the sounds are classic and smooth. “The Moonlight Sessions Volume Two” is beautifully done.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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