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Paula West

Date: 2010-10-15
source: The Wall Street Journal
author: By Will Friedwald

She is one of the hardest-swinging jazz vocalists working today, yet Paula West's career pattern of appearing primarily in cabaret venues like Feinstein's and the Oak Room underscores that she hardly neglects the lyrics and narrative. In fact, Ms. West has a unique gift for taking a melody and boiling it down to its essence while somehow increasing it's emotional impact and making it fire on all cylinders. Her new show reaches a peak fairly early with the trifecta of the hard-hitting "Supper Time" (Irving Berlin's protest song, about a lynching), followed by "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes" (which began life as a Tennessee two-step before it became a mass-market hit courtesy of Perry Como) and "Wichita Lineman," in which she underscores Jimmy Webb's collage of almost random nonsequiturs that somehow coalesce into one of the most profound love songs of the last 40 years.