A British singer/songwriter living in Paris recently produced an album covering the works of Yip Harburg. Her name is Amanda Thorpe, and the album is Bewitching Me.
Covering music is no news. On the surface, Bewitching Me looks to be an album covering the standards of our time. But after getting into the “heart” of the album, I realized something. If you’re looking for a recording artist covering standards of an era, you’re wasting your time and money.
Amanda assembles an album that is much less coverage, and more something else. This makes Bewitching Me so unique, so creative, and so inventive. In the past, we’ve heard the collaborations of George and Ira Gershwin, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Rogers and Hart, many of the greats. Bewitching Me is the collaborative efforts of singer/composer Amanda Thorpe and singer/lyricist Yip Harburg. As Amanda states, it was “ten years in the making.” For this writer, the album is worth the wait. The collaboration of Harburg & Thorpe works well. As the song says, “I Like the Likes of” this album.
Amanda opens with “April in Paris,” from the 1932 Broadway musical Walk a Little Faster, and later a 1933 hit by Freddie Martin. Here she keeps to the original but it has an ear-catching intro. I love this quiet ensemble. It makes me dream of another time. It’s interesting how music of that time puts emphasis on lyrics.
In “Old Devil Moon” Amanda shakes things up as she takes this classic standard and shapes it into a western/folk sound. Moving this song into a different genre is gutsy. But it works, as Amanda introduces vintage music to younger audiences.
Amanda takes us back in time again with the Judy Garland favorite, “Last Night When We Were Young.” Amanda takes this number in a 50s jazz direction. I love the double bass spotlighted giving the piece a cool rhythm. Amanda and Mitchell Cohen did an excellent job selecting the order of songs. I’m “old school,” this is a lost art. Mitchell also did the liner notes as well.
“Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” a Rudy Vallee hit, is another favorite. I love the intro on the percussion sounding like factories humming along toward massive shutdowns. Amanda keeps this number in its 1930s fashion. But she adds a contemporary flair to the piece, maybe paying homage to our recent depression. The acoustic guitar solo is sublime.
Other tracks, “I Like the Likes of You,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Then I’ll Be Tired of You” have a British 60s pop, folk-blues fusion, and catchy upbeat tempo respectfully. I love “Adrift on a Star” with its three-quarter time, and the cool chord progression within the number.
The collaborative efforts of Harburg & Thorpe are refreshing and different. As I listened to Yip’s lyrics, it sent chills up and down me, and other times I had tears in my eyes. This is an artist that was doing Dylan before Dylan was doing Dylan.
Amanda Thorpe has an album that will stay timeless as she developed a template for creativity. I wish I sat in on the studio sessions seeing the creativity unfold during production. I can see Yip by Amanda’s side.
Over and over in my head, I hear the voice of Yip Harburg, as quoted in The Huffington Post. “Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.”
I could not help “thinking” and “feeling” throughout this album. I’m JR Miller with High Note Reviews, and this is Harburg & Thorpe Bewitching Me.