With her first solo album in 15 years, Basia Trzetrzelewska knocks out an intriguing and fun selection of songs. She elegantly exposes her ability to remain absolutely fresh and relevant, bowling listeners over with her absorbing blend of R&B, jazz, classic American soul, and Latin flavours.
It’s That Girl Again draws Basia back into public consciousness where she is needed badly. In a day and age of processed and compressed vocals – thanks, Auto-Tune – she is a singer with substance and a clear, charismatic, articulate voice.
Basia’s global pop/jazz sound was first introduced when the Polish singer was a vocalist with Matt Bianco. Hits like “More Than I Can Bear” and “Half a Minute” received international acclaim. Basia paired with keyboardist and composer Danny White on a debut record, Time and Tide. The album was successful in Europe and, of course, Japan. Basia and White continued to collaborate, turning out The Sweetest Illusion (1994) and landing a #1 Billboard Club Play hit with “Drunk on Love.”
With a live album (Basia on Broadway) and another Matt Bianco record in 2004 called Matt’s Mood, Basia started to get the itch to work on another solo record.
Featuring a cast of gifted musicians, including Danny White, guitarist Peter White, trumpeter Kevin Robinson, and drummer Marc Parnell, It’s That Girl Again marks a strong return for the immensely talented vocalist.
“If Not Now Then When” opens the album with pleasant guitar before rocketing off with a Latin groove. It’s a lively number that showcases Basia’s excellent vocal control and phrasing capabilities.
Her vocal pacing is on display again with “Someone For Everyone,” a rhythmic number accented by Latin splashes.
To experience Basia is to experience the total global pop star package. The instrumentation is complex but obsessively catchy, the vocals are pure and earnest, and the lyrics are charming and fun. Each number is a dedication to someone in Basia’s life, so the sense of character resonating in each tune comes from a very real place.
Basia talks about taking love for granted in the exquisite ballad “A Gift.” Here she plays with her vocal registry with the dignity of a skilled professional, moving lithely from high notes to low notes. “There’s a Tear” is another strong piece, with its splendidly featured high notes and lyrical closeness.
Basia’s talents are so marvellous that she can even pull something good out of a less-than-desirable number. “Winners,” with its tacky lyrics, actually works in her hands because she turns the tune into something entertaining. Parnell’s percussion also helps out.
It’s That Girl Again is a cool, exciting return to action for Basia. If you’ve been wondering what she’s been up to and how her creative life has progressed, this is the record for you. And if you want to see what pop music truly should be, It’s That Girl Again is sure to be one of this year’s best bets.