Marsha Bartenetti’s most recent release is titled I Believe In Love. It’s an exceptional example of just what the performer can do, too. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Marsha Bartenetti is an American, California-based vocalist, voiceover artist, and actress. According to her official website, her career began in the late 1960s in San Francisco where she “opened for such acts at The Youngbloods,” and played such noteworthy L.A. venues as the Troubadour. In 1980 Bartenetti won Best Vocalist in the American Songwriters Association’s International contest.
She also recorded with Motown Records’ songwriters Ken Hirsch and Ron Miller. Her rockin’ resume includes her first solo album, “It’s Time”, which dropped in 2009, her 2015 Christmas CD, Christmas…In the Spirit, and her 2017 disc, …feels like LOVE. Her newest single is “Dust In The Wind.”
Marsha Bartenetti’s signature sound is generally a blend of jazz, pop, pop-rock, and R&B. The material she covers, however, often encompasses a much wider range of material. Indeed, she is famous for her willingness to “cross any genre for a good lyric.”
I Believe In Love
Marsha Bartenetti’s I Believe In Love has a running time of almost 48 minutes and is largely love songs presenting a mix of moods and themes. She is backed by an assortment of other exceptional artists. The key players include multi-instrumentalist Stephan Oberhoff, saxophonist Robert Kyle, pianist Kevin Madill, and guitarist Pat Bergeson.
Track by Track
The album opens strongly on “Fragile.” It’s a noteworthy comfortable cover of Sting’s 1988 song. Bartenetti’s vaunted versatility is obvious from the start as, in some ways, she almost communicates the actual message of the tune better than the original artist.
The second selection is her fresh version of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” written by Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf and more famously recorded by Ella Fitzgerald. It is the longest track on the disc with a running time of just under six minutes. You don’t notice though because Bartenetti sounds nigh inspired with the melody and this particular arrangement.
The next number is her expressive audio adaptation of “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good.” It was written by Duke Ellington and Paul Francis Webster. Her flexibility as a singer becomes even more evident here.
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” follows. Here Bartenetti takes the classic song by Carol King and Gerry Goffin and in a slightly softer direction. It’s both smooth and subtly sexy.
Next, Batenetti reworks the largely forgotten 1962 Mort Garson/Bob Hilliard hit “Our Day Will Come.” She breathes a bit of ethereal life into this oldie originally recorded by Ruby & the Romantics.
Her heartfelt rendition of “Alfie” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David follows. This 1966 number is also the source of the album title “I believe in love.” It was a hit for Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick and now it works for Bartenetti too as you hear her love and personal connection to the song.
Bartenetti gives her talented tip of the hat to American jazz singer Nat King Cole with her rendition of eden ahbez’s “Nature Boy” (first recorded by Cole). She also tunefully tackles “I Know You By Heart” by Diane Scanlon and Eve Nelson. It’s a warm one that works well on this album.
Her inclusion of “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. may be another unsurprising choice, Ah, but the enjoyment evident in her performance makes it refreshing despite any familiarity or any preconceived notions the listener might already have.
Bartenetti follows it up with her version of the pop standard “The Very Thought of You.” She does a good job dusting off this Ray Noble number from 1934. Indeed, she may even succeed in introducing nigh forgotten material to a new audience. The cozy closing cut is “Throw It Away.” This Abbey Lincoln tune provides an apt album endnote as it seems to solidify the overall theme of the work.
Overall, the light, jazz-tinged material here might take one back to another time when you could find a classy, little slightly smoky piano bar, have a drink, and enjoy the sound of a well-dressed siren tunefully transitioning from one music genre to another. Her vocal stylings are expressive and fluid as she demonstrates her ability as an adept and adaptable singer. Some say she “has an understanding of music.”
Perhaps, but this album goes beyond that. It speaks to her sincere love of the songs she chooses to cover. Sure, some of the choices here are frequently covered by other singers. The critical difference here is that Bartenetti communicates her personal passion effectively, thus adding something new to something old and making it something special. So check out Marsha Bartenetti’s I Believe In Love, and you’ll never want to “Throw It Away.”