Alibi V.13 No.37 • Sept 9-15, 2004 

Blue Note

Renée Olstead
Renée Olstead

Renée Olstead Renée Olstead (Reprise)

Lolita move over. Your jaw may drop when you hear "Summertime," the first of 12 tracks on this disc of standards and classics sung by the sensational Renée Olstead. The woman has every sexy insinuation, every purr and coo, every jazz riff and Broadway belt under the sun on the tip of her tongue.

Olstead knows just how to tease the pants off every note (and a good proportion of her listeners). Hers is a rare kind of mastery, one that transcends formula because she's so, so good. And that all this comes from the throat of an ultra sophisticated, little-girl-voiced 14-year-old (now turned 15) defies credulity.

What might Olstead's singing do for you? My husband jumped off the couch, grabbed a sheet and began to perform the first strip tease of his life. In the middle of filling two very deep cavities, my straight dentist began talking about the 24-year-old woman he met in his 40s who in one evening taught him more than he had ever known before. Said dentist got so carried away by his musings that I had to remind him that it was my hole he was engaged in filling.

It takes supreme confidence to issue a debut recording titled only with your name. Olstead's got that and more. Brilliant arrangements of "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," "Taking a Change on Love," "What a Difference a Day Makes," Barry Manilow's "Meet Me Midnight," the Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Sunday Kind of Love" and other greats, these performances are so precocious it's scary. Positively irresistible.