Four quick “s” adjectives come to mind when you first hear Rebecca Angel sing: smooth, soulful, sensual and sultry. Listening to her debut, “What We Had,” tops that off with sexy and unabashedly sentimental as well.
The emerging, New York City-based singer makes every emotionally compelling track an invitation — to dream, to love, and to reminisce wistfully about times gone by. Whether she’s singing romantic lyrics or sharing her artful vocalese, Angel’s cool, edgy and exotic vibe recalls classic artists like Sade and Brazilian greats Bebel Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto.
Angel weaves her laid-back style with old-school soul, funk, electronica and infectious grooves created by renowned jazz and R&B producer Jason Miles, who grounds every mix in the retro sounds of the Fender Rhodes, Vox Continental and Wurlitzer. He brought in some of New York’s finest for the various sessions.
Angel’s twist on Hoagy Carmichael’s wistful (and not frequently covered) “Winter Moon” features acoustic bassist James Genus, percussionist Mino Cinelu and soprano saxophonist Hailey Niswanger. The equally nostalgic title track, “What We Had,” a slowly swaying look back at enduring memories of the joys of a past romance, was penned by Angel and her father, trumpeter Dennis Angel, with additional lyrics by guitarist Jonah Prendergast. In addition to Miles’ keyboards and percussion loops, it features Christian Ver Halen’s crisp guitar licks and the easy rhythm section of Reggie Washington (bass) and Brian Dunne (drums).
On the other tracks, Miles leads an ensemble featuring Ver Halen, Dunne, bassist Adam Dorn, and percussionist Cyro Baptista. Special guests include Prendergast, renowned acoustic guitarist Ricardo Silveira and cellist Sebastian Stoger on a playful, spirited cover of the Brazilian gem, “Agora Sim,” featuring Miles’ intoxicating electro-percussion. Dennis Angel and flutist Gottfried Stoger are also featured.
The EP includes two versions of the classic “Stand By Me” and “Samba Jazz Happiness (Jet Samba),” the latter of which was a popular radio single for Angel, who released the festive, rhythmic track to coincide with the Rio Olympics in 2016. The song, originally penned and recorded as an instrumental by Brazilian composer Marcos Valle, reached high on the FMQB adult contemporary chart.
The EP also includes an “Ipanema Beach” remix, featuring danceable, hypnotic and carnivalesque percussion textures. The first version of “Stand By Me” also lends itself to a trip-hoppy hypnosis via electro-percussion behind Angel’s wistful vocals. The second, which closes the set, has a more mainstream vibe, perfect for adult contemporary radio.
The Angels co-wrote the set’s other original, “Feel Alive,” a charming declaration of love and how it changes the heart, which breezes along like a brisk stroll on a balmy evening without end.
Angel recently graduated with a degree in voice from Ithaca College, where she studied with Roseanna Vitro, Cyrille Aimee, whose version of “Stand By Me” inspired Angel to record it, Carol McAmis, Kim Nazarian and Maya Azucena. Azucena helped Angel take her vocal on “What We Had” to another level.
With her unique vocal timbre, Angel could venture into any genre she likes. Music lovers, including those who attend Angel’s upcoming show with Jim Dawson at My Father’s Place on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 8 p.m., will be glad she’s chosen to go the chill samba route.
My Father’s Place at the Roslyn Hotel is located at 1221 Old Northern Blvd. For tickets, go to www.myfathersplace.com.