The British Jamaican singer is in fine form on her new album, Feeling the Love, Songs of My Mother, Songs of My Father. She pulls out all the stops and delivers inspired interpretations of songs throughout music history.
Acclaimed singer Alexia Gardner and band featuring Hyuna Park on piano, Martin Pizzarelli on bass, George Gray on drums, and Linus Wyrsch on tenor saxophone, share their latest album, Feeling the Love, Songs of My Mother, Songs of My Father, which features ten musical reinterpretations of jazz, soul, and gospel songs spanning decades of music history.
Alexia Gardner will be known to many as one of the most prolific and acclaimed jazz singers of the last two decades. Having begun her career as a teenager by performing alongside her sister as the duo ‘High Profile,’ Alexia Gardner spent the late ‘90s earning a reputation for herself as she performed worldwide – from cruise ship singer to luxury hotel musical headliner.
She released her debut album, Rest of Your Life, in Shanghai in 2002. By this stage, she was well-known in numerous jazz circles – from the Far East to Europe and many other places. The following 20 years would see Alexia moving to different cities worldwide while continuing to record and perform extensively.
In 2023, Feeling the Love, Songs of My Mother, Songs of My Father was released, marking Alexia’s first album in a decade. The album allowed Alexia’s fanbase to see her growth as an artist and hear her unique interpretations of some intriguing song choices. The songs sung here were once made famous by Quincy Jones, Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill, Sarah Vaughan, and Cilla Black. On this album, Alexia finds a new home for them. Aided by her excellent backing band and with an appropriate confidence in her voice, Alexia entirely makes these songs her own.
‘Stand By Me’ has been covered extensively throughout the years, with many artists trying in vain to capture the insistent, rasping croon of Ben E. King in his original version. Alexia, thankfully, doesn’t fall into this trap. Her version of the song is very much her version. Here, she reimagines ‘Stand By Me’ as an easy-listening, down-tempo jazz track.
It’s worth noting that ‘easy listening’ is sometimes used with negative connotations – as if easy-listening music is somehow less vital because it makes different demands on the listener. But you’d struggle to say anything negative about Alexia’s music; her voice acts as a warm vocal blanket, and the arrangements here are chosen with care that could only come from decades of experience. The song is made richer still by Alexia’s backing band, who are understated for the most part but who aren’t afraid to take the lead when the occasion calls for it, meaning that you’ll get a delicious piano solo before the song has finished its 5 minutes and 35 seconds.