By Marilyn Lester
Linda Purl’s fifth album, Taking A Chance On Love, is a delightful mix of classic American Songbook standards with new pop classics, themed as the singer declares, to “explore life and love’s grand possibilities when you dare to chase your dreams.” Fans of Purl and of tuneful, melodic songs will be delighted by her smart choices and the fresh arrangements devised to deliver them. Purl, a seasoned actress as well as a vocalist, knows how to tell a story, building the arc of the lyric from first vowel to last. For a bit of philosophical tunefulness, there are the slow ballads “Throw It Away” (Abbey Lincoln) and “Try Your Wings” (Michael Barr/Dion McGregor). Both are not story songs, per se, but they do contain an informative intention, which Purl puts across with clarity. For pure delight, there’s the joyous samba beat of the bossa nova hit, “Wave,” also known as “Vou Te Contar” (Antônio Carlos Jobim), sung with Purl trademarks of authenticity and authority. Her interpretation makes the lyric perfectly clear; it becomes a statement of fact communicated in a most cheerful yet seductive way. Purl’s vocal tone is soothing and friendly. If “the girl next door” could be typified by a voice, it would be Purl’s, who comes across as a person you’d be happy to have as a BFF.
Although not strictly a jazz singer, Purl skirts the territory agreeably. The title song, “Taking a Chance on Love” (Vernon Duke/John Latouche/Ted Fette), a standard from the 1940 Broadway musical, Cabin in the Sky, has plenty of swing to it, along with an optimistic delivery. Another standard, “You Fascinate Me So” (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh) is presented in a spirited version with Purl in swing mode and applying easy jazz phrasing to the tune. Three tracks are two-song medleys, each with a super-powered story arc. “Pure Imagination” (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley)/”Never Never Land” (Jule Styne/Betty Comden/Adolph Green), and “Lucky Day” (Buddy DeSylva/Lew Brown/Ray Henderson)/”Shooting High (Jimmy McHugh/Ted Koehler), plus “And We Will Fly” (Phill Galston/Alan Pasqua/Kurt Elling)/”Come Fly With Me” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn), give Purl the opportunity to explore musical opportunities among the three, with vocal dynamics that propel the stories to soaring conclusions.
In addition to Purl’s own talents, Taking a Chance on Love benefits immeasurably by a group of four dream-team musicians who form a tight unit, providing Purl with a high level of musical simpatico. David Finck on bass, Ray Marchica on drums and Nelson Rangell on an assortment of reeds are led by piano genius, Tedd Firth. All have the opportunity to shine in various solos on the CD, but Firth’s special spotlight moment comes in “Lullaby (Good Night My Angel)” (Billy Joel), with his off-the-scale artistic capabilities on full display. Firth is not only a brilliant arranger, and a skilled technician, but his creative ideas are backed by a transcendent connection to the music.
Taking a Chance on Love is available for digital download now; the physical CD, on the Reaching Records label, will drop at the end of May. All proceeds for the first month will be donated to MusiCares COVID-19 Fund, and the second month of proceeds will benefit the ActorsFund.org, when you buy direct at: https://www.lindapurl.com/product/taking-a-chance-on-love/.