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  • Jonathan Widran

JACQUI NAYLOR, Treasures of the Heart

Besides her impossibly soulful and crystal clear, emotive voice that’s at home in jazz and a multitude of other genres (pop, R&B, blues), Jacqui Naylor’s greatest gift over her past 25 years as a recording artist is the intimate and responsive relationship she has with her fans. While she populated her brilliant 2021 album The Long Game with originals and covers chosen by fan balloting at her performances, she and her husband, chief collaborator and keyboardist/arranger Art Khu take that connective aesthetic to the next level on Naylor’s latest collection, the aptly titled Treasures of the Heart.


The pandemic lockdown gave her and Khu a special opportunity to livestream via a still-active monthly subscription performance series they called Home2Home. Once restrictions lifted, they invited several of their Patreon members to be part of their studio audience. She received immediate feedback on a wealth of new material (again, dazzling originals and well-chosen covers) and included the popular ones on this generous 14-song set.


Naylor offers countless highlights, from the jumpy, ultra-percussive Latin-flavored swirl through “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” through the inspirational, blues/gospel driven church jazz of “We’ll Shine Through.” Yet perhaps the sweetest sign of affection Naylor for her admirers comes on the calypso-flavored whimsy of “Picture Book of You” – a seductive charmer the singer and Khu wrote for a fan who asked them to compose a song for his wife.


They artfully incorporated lines from a note he gave them, listing personal qualities he loves about her and how he reflects upon his love in photso Naylor complements powerfully grooving gems like “Happy Adventures” and the peppy, organ-fired old school soul strutting of “You’re The One for Me” with dreamy ballads a la the originals “All That We Could Be” and “Walk Out In The Sun” and sensual twists on the Cyndi Lauper classic “True Colors” and Herb Alpert’s iconic “This Guy’s In Love With You.” Naylor’s also expreses her enduring love for classic R&B with a towering rendition of Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day” featuring one Khu’s most spirited solo piano improvisations.      

 

 

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