Napua Davoy — All I Want

by admin on February 13, 2010 · 1 comment

in Jazz Recordings

by Anthony Kershaw

I received this album last month at the Audiophilia office. It was in ‘the pile’, but the cover grabbed my attention. Simple in style but graced by a lovely, intriguing face. The singer is Napua Davoy, an artist with whom I’m not familiar. From a little research, I discovered she is a true Renaissance Woman.

Multi talented, Davoy writes musicals, both music and lyrics, plays piano, and has sung opera, jazz and popular music. The CD notes describe her as a ‘mezzo contralto’. More research uncovered this definition: ‘…voices that possessed the heft and darkness of the contralto timbre combined with the agility and range of the more typical mezzo-soprano voice’. Davoy’s deep, dusky voice certainly has heft and it is agile. The description is apt.

Songs on All I Want include known classics by Gershwin, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Mercer, and Gian Carlo Menotti, and also contains songs from her two musicals, Stella Rising and Miami.

Davoy offers fairly straight ahead renditions of the standards and (I assume) her original material. She aims for the simple line (not too much fluff to disguise the basic limited musicality of so many of today’s self-published female jazz ‘artists’). Her piano playing is effective and at times, poetic (Autumn Leaves). Davoy’s diction in both English and French is unbelievably clear — a testament to her opera training, no doubt.

Davoy’s accompanying musicians are first rate– Manny Moreiera and Peter Calo guitars, Phil Miller electric bass, Jeff Carney acoustic bass, and Darein Shulman percussion. Her recording is exemplary. Studio based, but finely tuned concert hall in effect. Lots of air around the instruments and Davoy’s voice center stage. Great stuff. I’ll be using the CD in rotation as one of my demo discs.

It took me three or four listens to get to grips with Davoy’s very unique voice. By the third listen, I grew to appreciate her style, her original songs, and the recording, especially. She suffers a little from what I call ‘operaitus’. Singers trained with technique have a difficult time letting go in popular music. Many have tried and failed — Frederica Von Stade, Eileen Farrell, included. Or, failed miserably — Kiri Te Kanawa (listen to her I Feel Pretty from the abysmal DGG/Bernstein West Side Story — I thought it was a joke on first hearing!).

These ladies have the most glorious voices in opera, but they couldn’t force out the opera training (great diction, long phrases, balanced vibrato, head and chest tones, diaphraghmatic breathing) when the pop chops were needed. Davoy succeeds where they failed. Once in a while (Darling, Don’t Leave Me), the opera vibrato and tone is too much. But, for the most part, we get a lovely voice singing in appropriate style.

Davoy is New York based. I’m hoping to do a follow up with her in June. The album is available on iTunes, Amazon and from her website.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chris 02.19.10 at 10:49 pm

Great review. I’m going to check her out. Will stay tuned for the tentative follow-up.

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