Review by Brad Walseth
Soul, jazz, pop, rock vocalist Curtis Stigers takes on the songs of modern American songwriters Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Stephin Merritt (Magnetic Fields), Mose Allison and Randy Newman on his latest release "Real Emotional." Backed by a nice group of players led by accordionist/ vibraphonist/ keybordist Larry Goldings (Madeleine Peyroux), Stigers aims for a mellow blend of soulful jazz with rustic Americana in a way that somewhat reminds me of Abbey Lincoln's "Abbey Sings Abbey" without the steel guitars.
Dylanís "Iíll Be Your Baby Tonight" swings along nicely with special guest John Pizzarelli on guitar, John "Scrapper" Sneider's trumpet and Golding's accordion and vibraphone. Stigers voice is strong and supple with a touch of worn leather and this world-weariness enhances his original "I Only Want to Be With You" as well as his cover of Waits' "San Diego Serenade." The multitalented Stigers adds some tenor sax to a funky duet with Goldings on piano and Hammond B-3 on "I Donít Wanna Talk About it Now."
"Night Owl" delights with its Sinatra meets Dr. John feel, while "Your Mind is On Vacation" shows Stigers at his bluesiest. But perhaps the highlights of the recording are Stigers' work on Paul Simon's ďAmerican TuneĒ and Randy Newman's "Real Emotional Girl," where the vulnerability in Stigersí craggy voice can bring a real emotional chill or two.