Isabel Stover

Stephanie Bruce, Bay Area Jazz Vocalist/Educator

Isabel Stover's beautiful natural singing voice is only one of the reasons you will enjoy getting acquainted with her work.  Her taste in music and her authentic heartfelt delivery of the songs she sings are really at the core of her appeal.  It takes intelligence and emotional depth to really connect with a good lyric.  It also takes commitment, and a kind of fearless willingness to jump in and draw from the real feelings we experience in life and bring them into the voice for all the world to hear. Isabel carefully selects the songs she chooses to sing and I think anyone who hears her will be delighted with these choices and the seasoned finesse she brings to them. Her music is carefully crafted and clearly shows both the art and the craft of good singing.

Girlsingers

So many debut albums offer an eclectic mix of styles – as if the artist is trying to find her sweet spot, that place to develop whatever the thing will be that sets her apart. This album, from Isabel Stover, is no different.

Ranging from breezy, swingy and light – Kern/Hammerstein’s “The Song Is You” – to Taj Mahal’s bluesy “Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes,” to the ballad, “Never Let Me Go,” Ms. Stover covers all the bases. I particularly like “Never Let Me Go,” written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston in the mid-50s. Ms. Stover aces this much-covered classic. Playing her velvety alto voice like the fine instrument it is – she’s also in top form on Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
There’s a style dying to get out – I can hear it on those two tracks. Much to like about this disc, and Ms. Stover clearly has learned a lot from those she cites as influences and teachers. But now that this debut is out of the way, it may be time to stop absorbing from others for a little while, and develop a style that will have others learning from her.
Then – on that second or third album, we’ll be able to come back to this one, and say, “Wow. There it was!”

Jonathan Alford on piano, Fred Randolph on bass, drummer Curt Moore, and Dave Bell on Guitar all frame Ms. Stover perfectly. Artist and teacher Stephanie Bruce picks up co-production and arrangement credits; Dave Tidball on sax has some very nice riffs. Arrangements here are superb.

Listening to this disc was a joy. “Human Nature,” and “Never Let Me Go” will be in current rotation at 62ndStreet.com. This disc is highly recommended.

Midwest Records

It’s not Stover’s fault for not knowing that “Nature Boy” is just one of those songs that’s like finger nails on a blackboard to me.  That’s the only knock I have about this jazz vocal set that mines the contemporary view of things in placing Michael Jackson next to Evans & Livingston.  With some neat stuff we don’t get to hear enough of anymore on board, Stover is a hot stove from top to bottom.  Jazz vocal fans have one less thing to bitch about once they let Stover fill a void for them.  Well done.

Acoustic Music

Commencing Her Own Sweet World with the Newley/Bricusse Feelin' Good indicates the tone of the entirety of Isabel Stover's repertoire, a soft dreamy world alternating between seductively positivistic cuts and then languid reminiscences perhaps best underscored by the take on the Evans/Livingston Never Let Me Go, preferring literacy of the Fitzgeraldian/Proust variety over torchy passion. That latter aspect transfers to Dave Tidwell's sax solo carefully contrasting the vocals, opening a window on the outside world. Stover's deeply personal, lost in the bittersweet haze of her experience, Tidwell paints in the expository surroundings.

The rendering of Eden Ahbez's classic Nature Boy pulls the song into Ipanema territory, softening what's normally more robust atmospherics, transmuting the ambience into a classicalism pointed up by Jonathan Alford's pianistics crossing into Bill Evans territory. Like Tidwell, he lays down a sharp counterpoint to Stover which works marvelously to her benefit as she re-enters. Speaking of Evans…man, is his Waltz for Debbie ever undergoing a resurgence! I've caught it on about 60% of the incoming vocal discs, and Stover sandwiches it chockablock in a quartet of unusually sympathetic compositions…'unusual' because she interprets them thusly, providing the interface.

A couple surprises here: Taj Mahal's Lovin' in my Baby's Eyes and Michael Jackson's Human Nature. The latter's a letter perfect piano bar / corporate lounge version designed to lay the audience back into its familiarity and later ratchet up the involvement via emphatic chorus work. Mahal's cut is the funkiest of the disc, a sidestep into the local city park on a Saturday afternoon rather than the cabaretic atmosphere so prevalent to Sweet World. Maria Muldaur would've tackled that song in the same fashion chosen by Stover, a bit of an erotic romp both girl-next-door innocent and worldly urgent simultaneously, and I suspect Toni Tenille also would've homesteaded the song thusly, but Stover's the one who aced 'em, and both the others will likely be lending an ear to the result.

Bebop Spoken Here

Isabel Stover has sung in musical theatre, funk, r&b, classical opera and a jazz choir, and that wide musical experience becomes obvious when you hear this highly recommended debut CD. And  I’d  guess  that  she  can  act  as  well,  because  she  certainly brings out the full meaning of these songs in her richly textured voice.

There are jazz standards: Softly As In A Morning Sunrise; Never Let Me Go; Nature Boy; The Song Is You along with jazz like treatments to Anthonly Newley’s Feelin’ Good; Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes (Taj Mahal); Human Nature (Michael Jackson); and four songs about children, including Bill Evans’ jazz classic Waltz for Debby. Add to this the very accomplished instrumentalists who have a fair bit of space for soloing, so what’s not to like?

I especially liked the musical evocation of a summer’s day on Feelin’ Good, with bee-like saxophone comments and background twinkling cymbals; Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, a very playful version with interesting chords and lots of bass. This song is difficult to place emotionally (I’ve tried) and a playful version comes across well. Never Let Me Go is wonderfully melancholy and the double tracked voice on Nature Boy gives the necessary mythical effect which suits the lyrics.

Improvijazzation

Isabel Stover – HER OWN SWEET WORLD: & as James said – “How Sweet It Is”…. Isabel describes jazz (in the promo sheet) as her “comfort food”…. I don’t think it could be described much better’n that, eh? You’ll love what she cooks up on the totally cool & laid-back “Feelin’ Good“, I’ve no doubt…. surely makes me comfortable. She’s got a stellar crew knockin’ out the licks behind her shining vocals…. tunes like “Never Let Me Go” will make you realize just how much Isabel loves the jazz that’s her “go-to” music for any & all moods. She’s performed all over California, and made her mark quite nicely, I’d say; it was her vocal skill on “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” that made it my favorite of the eight great tunes offered up for your aural pleasure. It would have been nice to have a couple more tunes on this outing…. I give Isabel a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. Get more information at Isabel’s website.

O's Place Jazz Magazine

O's Notes: Vocalist Isabel Stover sings eight classic jazz and pop tunes in front of a quintet. The band includes pianist Jonathan Alford, Dave Tidball on sax and guitarist Dave Ball. Stover's voice is soft but powerful with penetrating power. Her Own Sweet World is a performance that will delight her fans.

BSC News France

Un focus sur Isabel Stover, une artiste americaine quie vient de produire elle-meme son album "Her Own Sweet World" ou elle reprend des grands standards du jazz avec un talent certain. Entoure de Jonathan Alfort (piano), de Fred Randolph (basse), de Dave Tidball (saxophone) et de Dave Bell (guitare), Isabel Stover propose un album de bonne facture qui se laisse ecouter avec plaisir. Une artiste US a decouvrir.