Cover Painting by Luca Morici
Canadian Singer Khea Emmanuel recently self released her latest recording, simply titled ‘Khea’ expertly produced by her father Leroy Emmanuel and Robert Beacon. This album, on the whole, is quite admirable and Khea shows great promise as a life long performer and musical artist.
The seven cut CD is sheer bliss from the opening drum beat of Cole Porter’s 1932 song ‘Night And Day’ to the closing notes of the popular 1930 song ‘Body And Soul.’ Book ending the album with these two cuts seems like the perfect way to begin and end the musical journey. The CD is music for night and day and for body and soul. This is a real ambient music record, full of lush, slowly shifting sounds. By definition an ambient record is meant to be able to function as aural wallpaper and be fascinating to listen to at the same time. ‘Khea’ never lapses into background music. The arrangements and Khea’s stunning vocals allows the listener to really hear every nuance.
Khea delivers a tender and vulnerable treatment of the Sade classic, ‘Is It A Crime.’ It really takes a lot of courage to sing a song so closely associated with another contemporary artist, but Khea pulls it off like the song was written for her. This is the most modern song on the album and it fits right in.
She provides a warm and gentle take of the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart standard ‘My Funny Valentine.’ Considering how many artists have covered this jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists, it’s a wonder when anyone can make it sound fresh and vital, but Khea does just that.
Fast forward to 1979 with the Michael Jackson penned ‘I Can’t Help It’ from his ‘Off The Wall’ album. Perhaps this is a tribute to the late Superstar and if so then Mr. Jackson is smiling down from Heaven very happy with Khea’s rendition.
What collection of jazz standards would be complete without a Duke Ellington selection? Khea and her team have picked a real winner in the 1932 composition, ‘Sophistocated Lady’ with a gorgeous flute solo opening the number. 1955’s ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ from ‘Damn Yankees’ is next and it displays the singer's playful vocals. Khea has done the unimaginable with these two cuts by making me forget these recordings by two of my favorite legendary performers, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.
When Khea sings, ‘I’d gladly surrender myself to you, body and soul,’ you know she has, with this dynamic recording. Khea is still very young but sings like someone twice her age. She's capable of deep spiritual and musical depth. Her voice is powerful, vulnerable and yearning, a combination that very few people can manage, and she has great control. The CD has the power to haunt and stun at the same time. This collection of jazz, show tunes and pop oldies never sounded better.