It is an accomplishment when a jazz singer finds a comfortable center in presenting material in an understated, yet authoritative manner. New York vocalist Libby York has made a career specializing in exactly this type of singing. It was been nine years since the release of Memoir (2014, Libby York Music), and York has taken a road less traveled for her Dreamland. Rather than the first or second-string standards, York has put much thought into selecting the hidden diamonds of the Great American Songbook. York adds an additional dimension to the subject matter of songs, reflecting a world-weariness tempered with determination. In this, the singer finds measured perfection.
Outstanding is York's sensitive performance of Billy Barne's prelude to Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," "Something Cool." June Christy sounds just a bit too chipper on her 1954 performance from her recording of the same name on Capitol Records. What York brings to the song is a life of experience enough to properly realize the song's ambiance and emotional neighborhood. She telegraphs this same ability to Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away" and Earl Brown's and Bill Mumy's "Still On The Road." The mood York captures so clearly is resignation without surrender - the mantra of quiet determination. York's choice of the simple trio of guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Keith Hall (Hall appearing only on the songs leaving this recital more duo than a trio) augments her overall quiet approach to the subject.
But the recording is not completely about crepuscular dusk. The Blossom Dearie vehicle "Rhode Island Is Famous for You" and Jeri Southern specialty "An Occasional Man" betray a sly sexiness expressed with a wry wink, one where York wants to let the listener know that she is not planning to move from figuratively from "Something Cool" to just "Lush Life" yet.