You know that feeling where you’ve never heard of something, but as soon as you do, it seems like it’s everywhere, and you wonder if you’ve just been missing it the entire time or whether or not it’s the consequence of some strange serendipity? Well, her name is Sophie Milman. It’s hard to imagine life before Sophie (among my favorite female names of all time). But in the oft uninspired realm of truly jazz female vocalists, Sophie is worth noting for her unique timbre that’s not overly dark, tinted with a slight sweetness despite being plenty sensuous.
I somehow came across her newest album, Make Someone Happy, which succeeded if that was its mission. This is an album of somewhat safe material to grace her voice, though some tracks come up far shorter (Rocket Love) than others (Something in the Air Between Us), while the majority of the repertoire is well suited to her ease of transitioning from playful swing to intrepid solemnity.
The title track to the album is an interesting take on the classic song, which up until now had the firm association of Jimmy Durante in my mind. While Sophie’s version, a bit more somber and at a slower tempo, is particularly emotional, I don’t think it will usurp my current memory of this tune.
One feature of this album that’s particularly impressing to me is the quality of her band. In a realm of truly lackluster bands (Norah’s Handsome Band), this group can certainly hold their own if they ever decided to, though they are clearly well suited for their front-woman. Specifically, her rhythm section comprised of Paul Schrofel on piano, Kieran Overs on bass, and Alan Hetherington on drums definitely do it for me, while I don’t particularly value the gratuitous use of the harmonica, especially on “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.”
Sophie even has small moments reminiscent of Madeleine Peyroux (and by extension, Billie Holiday), and there are definitely bars in “Like Someone In Love,” that are Ella-like in the purity of their tone.
However, with strong renditions of “People Will Say We’re In Love” and “So Long You Fool,” she’s definitely a voice all her own.