Antonia Bennett – Natural EP
Antonia Bennett practically grew up on stage. The native of Beverly Hills is the daughter of singing legend Tony Bennett and actress Sharon Grant. Bennett grew up performing with her famous dad, including stints on stage with Count Basie and his orchestra. Bennett also grew up with advice and praise from such family friends as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Rosemary Clooney and Les Paul. Bennett has studied at The Berklee College Of Music and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, and has performed all over the world. This fall Bennett released her debut EP, Natural.
Natural opens with “Soon”, a slow reflective number from the Gershwins that shows off Bennett’s sweet voice in fine form. It’s a light but solid start. The piano work on this number is exquisite and actually outshines Bennett. Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” is also done in a slow, mellow arrangement that is not the best presentation for the song. It does, however, allow Bennett to show off her gorgeous vocal tone. Still this version of the song drags, and Bennett doesn’t bring a presence to carry it. “The Thrill Is Gone” is in much the same ilk, pretty but bland. “I Wish I Were In Love Again” is a Rodgers & Hart number (Babes In Arms) popularized by Judy Garland, and finds Bennett picking up the pace a bit in a solid performance. “I Fall To Pieces” shows some improvement, but you’re left with the impression that Bennett’s heart isn’t really in the jazz material. Natural closes with “Love Is A Battlefield”, a jazzified take on the Pat Benatar hit. Bennett comes alive here on the vocal even as the arrangement essentially neuters the energy and edge of the original.
The thing is that Natural simply isn’t. There’s an air of pretense to the EP that just doesn’t fly, as if Antonia Bennett is starting with an EP of staid material because that’s what she grew up with. There’s a higher level of commitment to the one rock tune on the disc even if it is watered down in a non-threatening arrangement. Bennett has a beautiful voice, but her heart just doesn’t seem to be in it here. Bennett has already moved on, and is currently working on an album of original pop tunes to be released sometime in 2011. One might suspect that project will show a lot more life while continuing to feature a voice that truly is worth listening to.
Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)