Angeline Quinto has an exceptional voice that occasionally veers off the rails during live performances. Fortunately, the controlled setting of a recording studio helps singers avoid syncope-inducing vocal excesses—as Quinto’s sleekly produced third album, “Higher Love,” demonstrates. It’s a love songs-and-covers collection that benefits from her low notes as much as her crowd-pleasing stratospheric trills. Alas, her subtler sound serves her better!
The talent-search alumna’s soft tones lend depth and pathos to her ballads—from Christian Martinez’s “Sino Ako Sa ‘Yo?” to Robert Labayen and Jonathan Manalo’s “Nag-iisa Lang.” She often sings about unrequited romance (the self-penned “Sana Sana”) and love gone awry (“Ikaw Ang Aking Mundo”). And her judiciously rendered birit notes sound divine alongside her sassy low and midregisters (Rolando Azor and Dannica Reyes’ “Kung Sakali Man”).
“Ako Na Lang” drips with wistful longing as Angeline sings about “the right love at the wrong time”—a stirring ballad written by Joven Tan (“Ano’ng Nangyari Sa Ating Dalawa?”), who’s turning out to be a better songwriter than filmmaker. (His contrived, 10-hanky indie, “Maestra,” was the fly in the MMFF New Wave category’s ointment, along with Toto Natividad’s head-scratcher, “Saka Saka.”)
Angeline’s covers are especially note-worthy because they were originally recorded by outstanding vocalists: Regine Velasquez’s “Babalikang Muli,” Dessa’s Metropop-winning “Bring Back The Times,” and Sharon Cuneta’s “Hanggang Kailan Kita Mamahalin?,” the theme song of “Madrasta,” the career-defining 1996 drama that gave Sharon a grand slam Best Actress win, including her first—and only—Urian award.
And we’re happy to note that, unlike Quinto’s recent revival of Sharon’s “Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin?,” there aren’t excessive “tweaks” and “bends” in Willy Cruz’s enduring melody!
‘Standards’ from Gloria Estefan
For her part, Gloria Estefan tackles the Great American Songbook in her Grammy-nominated 27th album, “The Standards.” She may be better-known for her Latin pop-inflected dance scorchers (“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and the Tokyo Music Festival-winning “Conga”) and schmaltzy ballads (“Words Get In The Way,” “Anything For You”), but her dramatic alto and “lived-in” warmth are a snug fit for her latest recording.
The 56-year-old Cuban-American’s inspired collaborations with Dave Koz (“How Long Has This Been Going On?”) and Joshua Bell (“The Day You Say You Love Me”) are a treat—and Laura Pausini joins her in the Spanish (“Sonrie”) and Italian (“Sorridi”) versions of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.”
The 15-track standards-and-jazz lineup includes Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” Lerner and Loewe’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face,” Fred Astaire’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” a lushly dramatic cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Young at Heart,” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Brazilian classic, “Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar”—with Ed Calle’s tenor sax weeping in the background!