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Antoinette: Verbal Crush

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

One of the best CDs this decade by female soul singers
Antoinette Manganas is the latest protegée of Norman Connors. Anyone who adores classic female soul in the vein of Phyllis Hyman should not disregard this CD!
Rating: 9/ 10

Soul Express CD of the Month - April 2009

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Verbal Crush
US Pyramid CD, 2008
1) Summertime 2) Could It Be Magic 3) Where Do We Go from Here 4) Deja Vu 5) These Foolish Things 6) How Insensitive 7) It's too Late 8) Sara Smile 9) Special 10) Show Me 11) Love Won't Let Me Wait 12) My Love Is All That

Antoinette Manganas was the main new artist Norman Connors introduced on his latest CD Star Power, and here we have a whole album by Antoinette, produced by Norman Connors, his long-time partner Donald Tavie and Larry King. Although the CD contains a lot of cover material, I still rate this as one of the best CDs released this decade by female soul singers. Antoinette has a personal, very soulful phrasing style that at places reminds me of Dionne Warwick, while on some other tracks her music is very close to the kind of music Phyllis Hyman recorded. Anyone who adores classic female soul should not disregard this CD!

The CD opens with a rather uncharasterical track for the album, a dance-remixed version of the Gerswhin classic Summertime, quite passable in its own category but completely different from the rest of the album, which is virtually a ballad album, and full of mature, tasty performances with mainly real instrumentation.

We have lots of cover tunes on offer, but they all follow the same overall style with jazz-tinged backings, relaxed yet soulful atmosphere and extremely classy interpretations by Antoinette. Of the numerous standards, I especially enjoyed Antoinette's readings of the Hall & Oates classic Sara Smile (earlier recorded by other soul artists like Latimore, Lenny Williams and The Manhattans as well), her sensual touches on Jobim's Bossa Nova song How Insenstive and a very Warwick-ish version of Deja Vu.

And the best thing is that we also have new compositions with a classic status here; Antoinette's own composition Where Do We Go from Here was already featured on Norman Connors' album, and it's a passionate duet with Howard Hewett - check the YouTube video clip below to see the live version of the same!

Special is a vibrant tune written by Norman Connors, and to crown the whole album, the CD closes with an utterly brilliant Connors-produced Nick Martinelli song originally intended for Phyllis Hyman, My Love Is All That, which currently tops our own Quality Time Cream Cuts chart and is a strong contender for the top 5 soul tracks of 2009!

"There’s a lot of old-school soul but also a sultry jazz side. They’re heart songs, with a lot of emotion and passion in the music", describes Antoinette on her own site and all I can do is agree. Go and get the CD!
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

Soul Express Video Pick from YouTube

Antoinette & Howard Hewett: Where Do We Go from Here (Live Version)

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