I'm in Heaven Tonight | The Nearness of You

Read reviews for I'm in Heaven Tonight:

Jordan Richardson, Blogcritics Magazine

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"Miss America should just resign," suggests New York vocalist Sarah DeLeo on the Leonard Bernstein/Steven Sondheim tune "I Feel Pretty." Listening to her spotless vocal command and contagious energy, I can't help but agree with her sentiments.

DeLeo's second record, I'm In Heaven Tonight, takes some interesting roads and allows the jazz singer and her bandmates the opportunity to stretch out and get comfortable. To be sure, one of the most compelling aspects of this recording is the dutiful approach to the musical arrangements taken by DeLeo. Each song is infused with something different, as if her bravery knows no bounds.

I'm In Heaven Tonight is a more than suitable follow-up to DeLeo's 2005 debut record, The Nearness of You. Here, she presents another collection of songs that allow her to play storyteller and reach through genres to pull out the very spirit of the music she sings.

Take the potentially tacky "Rockin' Robin," for a start. This Bobby Day hit is rearranged by Jay Collins and takes a slight Lee Morgan-inspired roundabout route. DeLeo rocks the house, swaying and snapping through the arrangement with sassiness.

The bittersweet mood of the title track is taken to expressive heights by DeLeo's control and crystalline elocution. Her timing on the notes charmingly offsets them, offering a conversational quality.

Shifting fluently from ballad to hard-swinging number is natural for DeLeo and her band, as percussionist Mark Bordenet carves out a deep Latin groove on "No Moon at All" and rapidly pops into a crackling jazz roll on "On the Street Where You Live." Chris Bergson's guitar is always present but never overwhelming, accenting DeLeo's voice like a conscientious partner ought to.

Sarah takes a risk with The White Stripes' "In the Cold, Cold Night" but knocks it out of the park with her sultry, smart delivery. Gary Wang's bass digs in, giving the cut a solid groove that never overpowers.

All in all, Sarah DeLeo proves her versatility and style with I'm In Heaven Tonight. Her tone is immaculate, her control is outstanding, and her method is unique and fresh. She offers stories with her diverse takes on these songs and provides characters that listeners will return to time and again.

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Chris Spector, Midwest Record

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Sarah De Leo / I'm in Heaven Tonight: Simply put, this is a jazz singer what am. DeLeo has got a feel for the time and place of the classic supper club sound and knows how to sell a song in a most convincing way. With the next generation of Big Apple cats that are the first call cats of the future along for the ride, this is a right on vocal set that's a pure, fast ball down the middle just asking to be hit out of the park. A lovely, winning date that gives you all you'd want from a vocal session and more. Hot stuff.

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Susan Frances,

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The old saying "Flaunt it if you've got it" has been passed on from generation to generation, and it certainly rings true for jazz vocalist Sarah DeLeo who has definitely got it and, she flaunts it on her sophomore release I'm In Heaven Tonight. Produced by DeLeo and Brian Charette, the album pays homage to the spellbinding lure that jazz standards have one people. DeLeo's interpretation of such standards as "Rockin' Robin" and "I Feel Pretty" have a contemporary bite that seeps into the bloodlines of these tunes ancestral roots making them tight descendants. DeLeo sounds like her album is on a mission to preserve jazz as she modulates her voice in smoothly poised ringlets liken to Peggy Lee and heated coils reminiscent of Nina Simone.

DeLeo's talents include demonstrating immense sensitivity as she acclimates to the mood of songs and moves harmoniously with the slow rises and declines traipsing through the melodies like in the ballad "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me." She twitters energetically across the throng of vaunting movements in "Rockin' Robin," and turns to soft caresses through the torchlight atmospherics of "No Moon At All" featuring the smooth Latin grooves of Mark Bordenet in the percussive beats. "I Feel Pretty" has the cheery showtunes glee of Guys And Dolls and vocal theatrics which give the tune a life-sized character. Pianist David Cook injects the title track with fluid wavelets and switches to a sparsely majestic flare in "I'm In Heaven Tonight." The pensive strokes of DeLeo's vocals glide across the melodic planks of "Let It Rain" as if the song was created from her lips and made as a panacea for her soul. The pumping beats of "On The Street Where You Live" pulses at a vigorous heart rate, and the sassy purr in her vocals in "Stolen Moments" bode well with the tune's finger-snapping rhythm. DeLeo's exhalations and inhalations have a smooth palpitation fueling the heath beneath "In The Cold, Cold Night," and the statuesque curves of her vocals in "Sometimes I'm Happy" cloak the tune in satisfying warmth.

DeLeo shows a breadth of freedom in her interpretations and a steady control, which enables her to bend the melodies to her will. Graduating from Barnard where she was an American Studies major, DeLeo's foray into jazz began with ad-hoc performances beside seasoned professionals. These colleagues provided her guidance in her own solo work, which led to the making of her debut album The Nearness Of You. Sarah DeLeo's life seems to be made up of dreams, each one coming to life after being conceived and all made to fit her.

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Donna Kimura,

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Vocalist Sara(h) DeLeo would have fit in nicely swinging with a big band in the '40s or playing it cool with a hip little jazz combo in the '60s.

Lucky for us, all her timeless qualities are brought to her music today. DeLeo's second CD, I'm in Heaven Tonight, features several well-chosen selections from the American Songbook - "I Feel Pretty," "On the Street Where You Live," and "You're Getting to be a Habit With Me." DeLeo performs each with tender care. Her fresh voice and precise diction carefully caress each word.

Despite her ability to evoke another era, the New York singer isn't a retro act. She's a strong interpreter of old and new songs.

DeLeo turns Patricia Barber's dark, moody "Let it Rain" into a softly swinging tune punctuated by horns. That's followed by The White Stripes' "In the Cold, Cold Night." DeLeo pushes the rock duo's sparse and gritty song to its blues roots, and it works.

Another song deserving mention is the disc's opener, "Rockin' Robin." DeLeo injects plenty of cool attitude into the playful number.

Overall, the CD offers a strong mix of old and new songs, up tempo numbers and ballads.

No matter what genre DeLeo pulls from, she makes each song her own.

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Lee Prosser,

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Sara DeLeo has a certain charm about her voice that comes across in a lucid, clear, intense manner. She is sure to connect with a wide jazz listening audience with her relaxed style.

The CD collection has some nice material, and each song will find its listener immediately. The songs include "Rockin' Robin," "I Feel Pretty," "I'm In Heaven Tonight," "No Moon At All," "On The Street Where You Live," "Stolen Moments," "Let It Rain," "In The Cold, Cold night," "Sometimes I'm Happy," and "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me."

I was impressed with her singing on "No Moon At All" and "Sometimes I'm Happy." All of her singing, in fact. I came back to hear these two three times and feel they are perfect for this gifted singer's interpretations.

The musicians on this CD collection are topnotch in the fullest sense of the word, and all performances are perfect and highlight the jazz motifs in each and every song. This is a nice CD, one you will come back to, and enjoy often. Chris Bergson excells on guitar as does Mark Bordenet on percussion. Jay Collins creates some fine harmonic themes with his saxophone and flute inventions. Brian Charette is one best organists around, and his sound is subtle. Each musician is excellent. Fabio Morgera gets in some fine phrasing with his trumpet and David Cook is smooth with his unque piano stylings.

Excellent. One you will enjoy often!

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Dick Metcalf, aka Rotcod Zzaj

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I've reviewed a lot of lively lady singers over the years, but I can tell you as I spin this CD for the second 'round, Sarah is among the liveliest, without doubt. The opening track "Rockin' Robin" features some great bouncin' organ from Brian Charette and very nice flute by Jay Collins – but the highlight is how neatly DeLeo jazzifies it, especially since I grew up with this one as a straight rock piece. The musicians behind her are right on target, with all the verve you'd expect to hear in a really sophisticated jazz setting in the city (especially that organ – it's just great), & they all work together to "frame" Sarah as the headliner! My favorite cut on the album is "No Moon At All", which runs a nice "alley cat" kind of slink behind her vocal. Recording is first-rate all around. She has a kind of "high" quality in her vocals that will easily put you under the spell she is weaving... it's like a "real" singer, not a "cutesy" kind that makes the grade with gimmicks. Didn't hear any original compositions from her on this outing; would recommend that for the next CD, to be sure, but she's still rock-solid on all 10 cuts. I give this album a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... we'll be looking for much more from Sarah, to be sure.

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Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene

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Born and raised in Connecticut, Sarah DeLeo gained her most important jazz education by singing in New York City jazz clubs after her college years. She studied privately with Lina Koutrakos, Jay Clayton, Dena DeRose, Giacomo Gates and Kirk Nurock, and learned early on that it was important to develop her own voice rather than copying her predecessors. 2005's The Nearness Of You was her excellent debut while I' m In Heaven Tonight is an equally impressive follow-up.

Ms. DeLeo's tone and happy sound sometimes hint at early Peggy Lee, but otherwise she has her own style. She sounds at her best on such standards as "I Feel Pretty," "No Moon At All," Sometimes I'm Happy" and "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me." More unusual choices include Patricia Barber's "Let It Rain," an adaptation of the rock song "In The Cold, Cold Night and the title cut. Her only misstep is singing "Stolen Moments," a repetitive melody that should only be performed as an instrumental. Most of the songs have her joined by either pianist David Cook or organist Brian Charette. Bassist Gary Wang is on the piano numbers, percussionist Mark Brodenet is a constant, and various selections add guitarist Chris Bergson, saxophonist Jay Collins and/or trumpeter Fabio Morgera.

All in all, this is a fine effort by a promising young singer. I'm In Heaven Tonight is available from

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Mark Saleski,

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RATING: 83/100

Oh man, here I have to admit that I used to have a cassette tape copy of the Jackson 5 doing this song way back in the day. Maybe a bit of redemption can be scored by saying that I'm pretty sure there was a Joe Tex song on the tape? (OK, never mind.)

Vocalist Sarah DeLeo, thankfully, has a completely different delivery from the Jacksons. On top of a fairly sultry vibe (thanks must go to organist Brian Charette and flutist Jay Collins), DeLeo lives inside the tune. I wouldn't have thought this combination would work, but that's just my fading memory of the Jackson 5 taking over. DeLeo has a nice voice and uses it to great effect on this one.

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Walter Kolosky,

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RATING: 87/100

"Stolen Moments" is the jazziest number on vocalist Sarah DeLeo's I'm In Heaven Tonight. The familiar strains of this Oliver Nelson standard are put across quite effectively by a first-class band. Say, why does that organist sound so familiar? Why, it's Brian Charette, whom I recently reviewed favorably right here on!

In approach, if not in tone, DeLeo approaches this cut as Peggy Lee might have. It turns out that Peter Richmond, who wrote the book on Peggy Lee, is a fan of DeLeo and penned the liner notes for this album. So the connection is clear. The arrangement calls for Ms. DeLeo to sing a little faster and higher-pitched than the very cool Miss Lee. But it is Peggy she evokes, at least on this number. (Elsewhere on this album, in her rendition of "In the Cold, Cold Night." DeLeo may actually be channeling Lee.) As the liner notes suggest, this is music presented by a very talented song stylist you may expect to hear at an upscale establishment. If you can't afford that night out, there's always this CD to transport you.

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Bruce Crowther,

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New to me, this is Sarah DeLeo's second album and very attractive it is too. Sarah has a smooth and gentle vocal sound. Clear diction and airy phrasing allows her to bring pleasing interpretations to the songs she sings. Her repertoire mixes standards, such as "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me", with contemporary pieces, such as Let It Rain. Sarah's accompanists here are organist Brian Charette, guitarist Chris Bregson, pianist David Cook, percussionist Mark Bordenet and bassist Gary Wang, as well as guest horns saxophonist Jay Collins and trumpeter Fabio Morgera. This singer is well worth looking out for and if she is also new to you then this album serves as a very interesting introduction.

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Bob Morello, Post-Gazette

New York-based vocalist Sara(h) DeLeo serves up a tasty collection of classic and contemporary songs that showcase her delicious vocals. The menu includes pages taken from the American Songbook, along with samples from various genres. DeLeo does a nice job on "Rockin' Robin" a 1958 hit for Bobby Day, the euphoric "I Feel Pretty," the tender "I'm In Heaven Tonight," the Latin-tinged "No Moon At All," and an outstanding job with the Lerner/Loewe classic "On the Street Where You Live." It's amazing how DeLeo is able to adapt her vocals to sound like she is actually in the ear of the songs she vocalizes, whether its the '50s or the '60s. DeLeo surrounds herself with outstanding musicians as, "Chris Bergson, guitar; Mark Bordenet, percussion; Brian Charette, organ; Jay Collins, saxophone and flute; David Cook, piano; Fabio Morgera, trumpet; and Gary Wang on bass. Check out her vampy effort on the rhythmic "Stolen Moments," after listening to "Let it Rain," you almost believe that she can get her wish at will, she follows with a cover of "In the Cold, Cold Night" a song done in 2003 by The White Stripes, swinging out with the head-bobbing "Sometimes I'm Happy" and check out the caressing tenor lines by saxophonist Collins on the pretty "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me." The vocals of DeLeo quickly become a habit that one can easily become addicted to.

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Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant

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Sarah DeLeo is a young vocalist with roots in Connecticut; she was born in Waterbury and graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford. She headed off to Barnard College in New York City and, upon graduation, began her singing career. She has studied with Jay Clayton, Dena DeRose, Connecticut resident Giacomo Gates (also Private Lessons Teacher in voice at Wesleyan) and, most notably, singer-songwriter Lina Koutrakos.

DeLeo's new CD I'm in Heaven Tonight has just been issued on her Sweet Sassy Music label. It's her second disk and features a fairly eclectic program ranging from "Rockin' Robin" (yes, the old Bobby Day tune) to Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" to Lerner & Loewe's "On The Street Where You Live" to "In the Cold, Cold Night" (a tune first recorded by the White Stripes.) Produced by organist Brian Charette, the backing band includes guitarist Chris Bergeson, bassist Gary Wang, saxophonist/flutist Jay Collins and trumpeter Fabio Morgera and others. DeLeo's voice is, at times, throaty and light but she works well with the band and the results are bright and cheerful. For more information and to hear song samples, go to

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C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

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On The Nearness of You (Self Produced, 2006), vocalist Sarah DeLeo exhibited her diaphanous, spherical voice on a collection of off-the-beaten path standards, all well suited to her most welcome, conservative vocal style.

She does not veer far from this approach on I'm In Heaven Tonight, again choosing songs that have not been thoroughly worn out by the constant deluge of jazz vocal releases. DeLeo's support on this disc is a quilt of instrument combinations rooted in the trio of guitarist Chris Bergson, bassist Gary Wang, and drummer/percussionist Mark Bordenet.

The disc opens with the early pop-rock title "Rockin' Robin," which DeLeo treats as a swinging show tune. Brian Charette's organ provides a guitar-organ trio vibe that never accumulates much grease.

But this is not DeLeo's way. She only seems to want to provide a hint that contributes to the smart ambiance of the recording. This may be the most out-of-place song in the set, but it nevertheless attracts attention.

The trilogy of "No Moon at All," "On the Street Where You Live" and "Stolen Moments" is the balancing fulcrum upon which the total disc sets. DeLeo's delivery is low-key, amplifying the pure quality of her voice. Fabio Morgera's playing on "On The Street Where You Live" (as well as on title tune and "Let It Rain") proves the Italian trumpeter to be an excellent accompanist to DeLeo. Reedsman Jay Collins provides support on Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" and "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me," appropriately filling out DeLeo's band.

I'm In Heaven Tonight is an eclectic offering from a talented vocalist. DeLeo never oversteps her ability, thereby providing a satisfying collection of songs that otherwise might receive too little attention in mainstream jazz vocals.

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Woodrow Wilkins, All About Jazz

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DeLeo's approach makes I'm in Heaven Tonight unlike most tribute or cover albums, and with her crystal voice and strong supporting cast, it's got excellent repeat-play potential.

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Barry Bassis, Town & Village

If you want to hear an English version of "I Feel Pretty," albeit a more swinging rendition than Bernstein envisioned, check out Sarah DeLeo's new CD, "I'm in Heaven Tonight."

That this jazz singer has the ability to rework songs is apparent from the opening "Rockin' Robin," arranged by her saxophonist Jay Collins. The title track is a soulful plea for love, even if it's transient. Unlike "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," in this one the singer is not worrying about whether the affair will be over the next day. The slinky "No Moon at All" benefits from the guitar work of Chris Bergson and the organ playing of Brian Charette. DeLeo gives an upbeat, cheerful performance of "On the Street Where You Live," buoyed by a trumpet solo by Fabio Morgera. Her jazz chops are highlighted by Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments."

In the down home "Let it Rain," with the help of Collins' bluesy sax, she summons foul weather and banishes cheerful folks. On the other hand, the usually blithe "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me" is filled with emotion, again aided by Collins, who successfully adopts a variety of styles on the album.

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D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter

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Sarah sings retro, cool, jazzy blues that take shape with Brian Charette humming on the B3 and Jay Collins chirping with his flute on the opener "Rockin Robin". The band is strong with Chris Bergson (g), David Cook (p) and Gary Wang (b) providing a solid backdrop. Collins shines with his sax on "Let it Rain" and "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me". DeLeo is easy to understand as she takes us through ten popular classics. Our favorites are "Stolen Moments" and "No Moon At All".

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George W. Harris,

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Built like a young Ella Fitzgerald, and with a sense of swing to match, Sarah DeLeo has put out her first release since 05, and it’s a tasty gem. Backed by the air tight team of Chris Berfson/g, Mark Bordenet/perc, Brian Charette/org, David Cook/piano, Fabio Morgero/tp, Gary Wang/b and Jay Collins/winds, DeLeo twirls like a New Years Eve noisemaker on the snappy “Rockin’ Robin” and “I Feel Pretty.” She sounds right at home with Charette’s greasy B3. Whimsical, and Ella like by including the intro, she is bouncy on “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me” but able to let the lights get dim on the nocturnal “No Moon At All”. Covering newer material like Patricia Barber’s “Let It Rain,” she brings an extra pizzaz to the piece, only slightly missing a beat on Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments.” Good sophomore release, and let’s see this lady come to town!

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Bob Gish, Jazz Improv NY

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There’s a sweet purity and innocence to Sarah DeLeo’s voice which is, well, flirtatious, drawing the listener in from unadulterated notions of the girl next door. Part of that feeling is the high register which is her natural range and phrasing consonant with Broadway musicals set against her more hip, jazzy phrasing – all set against the sound of the musicians assembled here, expecially Brian Charette’s organ playing and Chris Bergson’s guitar lines and comping. “I’m in Heaven Tonight” is a standout track, which DeLeo totally owns. Fabio Morgera’s trumpet solo is indeed heavenly, a gracious, tasteful complement to the vocal and the sentiments of the lyrics. It would be great to hear DeLeo, accompanied by Bergson’s bluesy guitar, in a café or club singing “No Moon at All,” when the lights are low, reminding one strangely, of the comforts of just such a voice also humming around the house.

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Rob Lester, Talkin' Broadway

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When Sarah DeLeo gets into a cozy, snug groove, it's not too far from musical heaven. I've listened to the album from time to time since it first came out earlier this year, and have returned to it this week in anticipation of her performance in New York on July 15 at the Metropolitan Room.

It's a pleasure to linger with her in her comfort zone of velvety smooth sounds (as in the title song) or the confident briskness of self-assuredness (a refreshingly hip and non-coy take on West Side Story's "I Feel Pretty"). Her sound can be pretty and usually feels that way—an attractive tone is her great asset—though on some other tracks I feel like she needs to be looser and let go. Things sometimes feel tentative, at least at first. But the appeal of her sound and her warm, unpretentious persona win me over and put most of this in the "win" column overall.

Full of surprises as singers swimming in the jazz waters can be, there's a no-fuss sensibility about her approach, whether she is taking a rather standard take on a standard or shaking things up. "On the Street Where You Live" steers clear of the awestruck, dewy-eyed romanticism with a faster trot down that street, but it has its own sense of casual joy. The opening track is not at all representative of the rest of this jazzier album, and I'll confess it thus put me off somewhat at first. It's an odd take on the old pop trifle "Rockin' Robin" which tries to find something hip in a new, more laidback ambience instead of exuberant rocking out. (Listening back this week, for obvious reasons, it's hard not to think of the peppy Michael Jackson version.)

As the album gets more into a pop-jazz feel with a bit of blues, it works rather well, most especially when she digs into the mellower sound. And when she sings in her higher register, it's most attractive and lovely and glorious. "No Moon at All" is light but terrific, a real mood-setter, solidly presenting a picture of a sultry but calm summer night where things hang in the air and "even lightning bugs have dimmed their light." Sarah's first album, the very pleasing The Nearness of You was somewhat more outwardly romantic, and I like her best on ballads. Though they are in scarcer supply this time around, for me the best is saved for last with a thoroughly successful, meltingly slow version luxuriating with "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me." She shines here. Perhaps because it's the best and last track on the album (there are only ten songs), at the end one is left wanting more music and more flavors and, well, more like this track.

Keyboard accompaniment is sometimes piano, sometimes organ, and the band seems to be on the same page in the sense that the priority is keeping things rather simple and clean. There isn't much grandstanding, no esoteric abstract distracting side trips. We "get" the main color of each arrangement and mood early and they stay right on the main road without feeling overly redundant. Seemingly still a singer finding her way and breaking out of safe or traditional boxes, she's one to keep an eye and ear on.

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Songwriter's Monthly

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Sarah DeLeo is a class act with a silky tone that is at once bold and reserved, sultry and innocent. Her latest album is a collection of covers entitled I’m In Heaven Tonight.

Sarah doesn’t just sing the tracks on her album, she takes each song and gently sculpts it, molds it, shapes it into something that is completely her own. She twirls the melody innocuously like a girl absentmindedly playing with her hair and the subtle shifts in line and phrasing create an arrangement that not only sounds new, but is also perfectly natural and effortless.

The opening track, “Rockin’ Robin,” is presented with a laid back swinging groove that features an enchanting flute solo. The song is not quite how you’ve ever experienced it before, yet somehow it sounds like it’s something you’ve listened to your whole life. But for all her tweaking, Sarah doesn’t consider herself a writer. “I’m a song interpreter,” she explained. “I break down the songs harmonically, I break them down rhythmically, and I’ve always considered it to be taking liberties with the material when I perform. In some ways, I guess it is rewriting,” she offered, “but I consider it interpreting because the bare bones are somebody else’s.”

Besides breaking the songs down from a musical perspective, DeLeo applies practices she learned while studying acting. Sarah studied with two actors who introduced her to the Stella Adler method. In a very simplistic summary, Stella Adler’s approach teaches actors to never limit their abilities by drawing on real memories and experiences, instead they should draw from their imagination in order to be able to express a far greater depth and range.

As enthralling as her voice can be and as captivating as her performances are, DeLeo expressed that she gets more comments on her choice of songs than anything else.

One attention-worthy cover is the White Stripes’ “In The Cold, Cold Night.” Sarah outlined how she adapted the song to fit her style: “I had been doing “In The Cold, Cold Night” for a while and I didn’t record it on my first album even though I had been singing it at the time. I have the Seven Nation Army album and I remember listening to that track and thinking, Gee this sounds a lot like ‘Fever.’ I listened to the arrangement that Peggy Lee did — she basically sings to the song once, then she modulates and that was it. So that’s what we did in this tune. We worked on it a little bit and then we recorded it that way and it just really worked out great.”

A personal favorite of Sarah’s is a song called “No Moon At All.” “I read the lyrics and I just loved it!” she expressed. “With a lot of the songs I sing, there’s something kind of serious and earnest about them, but with that one, I liked that there was a sense of irony about it. I don’t really do a lot of songs that could be considered ‘funny,’ but I thought there was actually some humor in that one because it’s very ironic at the end when it says: “no moon at all up above/this is nothing like they told us of/just to think we fell in love/and there’s no moon at all.”

I’m In Heaven Tonight is a lush album, saturated with atmosphere and supper club charm.

Owen McNally, Hartford Courant

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A young, old-fashioned romantic with a passion for post-modern retrofitting of vintage songs, the celestial-toned Sarah DeLeo sounds as if she's in heaven as she breathes new life into venerable evergreens and angelically kitschy oldies. Able to generate the intimacy of a seasoned cabaret performer, DeLeo can make even the kitschy sound catchy as she does by morphing the rock 'n' roll hit "Rockin' Robin" into a jazz tune with a Blue Note tinge.

As part of the transformation from fizzy pop to funky jazz, saxophonist/arranger Jay Collins grafts Lee Morgan's hypnotic vamp from "The Sidewinder" onto the tune. Revamped, it flies like a bluebird of happiness gliding on a groove recalling "The Swingin' Shepherd Blues."

Similarly, vocalist/composer Patricia Barber's somber, introspective blues, "Let It Rain," is transfigured into a light-filled, upbeat mood, manic rather than manic/depressive. DeLeo swaggers over soulful horn backup, and a celebratory Ray Charles atmosphere reigns supreme.

Backed by first-rate New York sidemen, DeLeo, a chameleon-like performer, is all over the lot, evoking the sultry Peggy Lee of "Fever" while warmly embracing "In the Cold, Cold Night," or waxing and waning in an exotic exploration of "No Moon at All."

Perhaps the many-faced performer reveals her genuine self as an irony-free romanticist on her lovely, intimate rendition of "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me."

Essential download: "Let It Rain"

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