Thisbe Vos’s sophomore album, Under Your Spell, continues her faithful, smooth and well-articulated singing of the great American jazz standards playbook. Listening to Ms. Vos makes one feel as if they’ve stepped back in time into a post-war America, not only in the song choices but in the lyrical way in which they’re sung. While she sings so that words are clearly understood, there is always a smooth flow to them, transitions between stanzas are fluid while maintaining tempo. Sometimes, it’s very surprising, such as in Ain’t Misbehavin’. It’s not like this is bad, it’s just not done with the punch you typically expect. Her singing is more relaxed than we are used to in these rushed days. So, if you yearn for that sound from the 40s except being produced with thoroughly modern sound engineering, then this is your album.
A great example Ms. Vos’s style is that of the Van Heusen and Mercer classic, I Thought About You. Her tempo is more Frank Sinatra than Billie Holiday, but ultimately, it’s her own. She uses an upbeat tempo but never punctuates a transition between stanzas with a beat or breath; it’s all smooth. Whilst her first album, Sophistication, is really good (and I still frequently listen to it), she has matured (she was 23 when Sophistication debuted) and her voice control is improved. Not that there was a lot to improve.
The band with whom she records provide solid professional accompaniment. Even when they have some solo time, it’s about the music, not the musician showing off his skill. These guys are willing to play for the overall sound and to support her singing. Very nice tight playing.
A quirk that rarely peaks out but comes to the fore occasionally is the sound shape of her words. Ms. Vos grew up in Holland and while she usually sounds native, a slightly different shape to a word arises here and there.
Even my children find delight in her; I put her CD in the van recently and the first reaction what “Who’s that? She’s good!” So are we all under her spell.