• Jonathan Widran

REBECCA ANGEL, What We Had


On her soulfully produced and gorgeously arranged debut EP What We Had, emerging NYC singer/songwriter Rebecca Angel makes every emotionally compelling track an invitation – to dream, to love, to reminisce wistfully about beautiful times gone by which infuse every waking thought of today. With each swaying breeze of her distinctive voice, whether she’s singing romantic lyrics or sharing her artful sense of vocalese, Rebecca – who has performed numerous times at hotspots like the Iridium, The Metropolitan Room and Café Noctambulo – tempts us further into her realm of sophisticated chill samba, where she explores her cool and edgy contemporary update on the deeply exotic vibe of classic artists like Sade and Brazilian greats Bebel Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto.

She weaves this laid back magic over the old school soul, easy funk, ear tingling electronica and infectious grooves created by renowned jazz/R&B producer Jason Miles, who grounds every mix in the shimmering retro sounds of the Fender Rhodes, Vox Continental and Wurlitzer. He brought in some of New York’s finest for the various sessions. Rebecca’s dreamy and sensual twist on Hoagy Carmichael’s wistful (and not frequently covered) “Winter Moon” features the hypnotic percussion of Mino Cinelu and lush soprano sax of Haley Niswanger. The equally nostalgic title track “What We Had,” a slowly swaying look back at enduring memories of the sensory joys of a past romance, was penned by Rebecca and her father, trumpeter Dennis Angel, with additional lyrics by guitarist Jonah Prendergast.

The EP includes two versions each of the rock classic “Stand By Me,” and “(Samba Jazz Happiness (Jet Samba),” the latter of which was a popular radio single for Rebecca, who released the festive, playfully rhythmic track to coincide with the Rio Olympics in 2016. The EP 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 Rebecca’s wistful vocals. The second, which closes the set, has a more mainstream, seductive adult contemporary vibe. Rebecca and her Dennis Angel co-wrote the set’s other original, “Feel Alive,” a charming and innocent declaration of love and how it changes the heart, which breezes along like a brisk stroll on a balmy evening without end.


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