Review of the album Preface to a Dream (2009) on Allaboutjazz.com.
On Preface to a Dream, Elisabeth Geel finds poetry in the art of jazz and romance in the dimly-lit skies of heartache. It is told from the eyes of a woman who has been wounded yet still perseveres, always questioning the situations around her but holding a candle flicker of optimism.
In “Kite," Geel literally personifies the object of the song; her voice gradually builds with the hawk swoop of the violins and then lifts itself into the skies, soaring gracefully as the sweeping strings illuminate her flight. It is a performance that is breathtakingly powerful not just because of the technical precision of her singing but from the unguarded feelings of liberation that she emits. In “The Warmth of Your Smile," Geel finds herself caught in the embrace of infatuation but afraid of disappointment crashing the fantasy. But its love at its most blind as Geel allows the reverie to carry her away, reality be damned.
There are different sides to Geel's personality, and each one has its own distinct tone. Sultry and flirtatious on “The Warmth of Your Smile," she is downright soulful on “Picky Me," the tale of a woman with a discriminating yet fragile heart. “Blind Kiss" has her yearning for a lost love, and it's reflected in the wintry breath of her vocals. The self-confident swagger of “Thirty-eight Special," recalling Mitchell's quirky talk-singing, slyly disguises the insecurity of the words.
Backed by the Orchestra dell'Accademia Musicale, Preface to a Dream has a widescreen sound of lush, evocative backdrops that strengthen and deepen the impact of Geel's wonderful vocal work.
Robert Sutton – “Allaboutjazz.com.”