Every now and then, something you don’t quite expect sneaks into the review queue and that proved to be the case with “Empress” by Calista Kazuko.
So, what made this particular album better than the rest? Was it the way in which Ms. Kazuko uses Shirley Bassey melodrama, midnight cabaret and lounge stylisations to conjure up a glitterball lit dancefloor filled with designer dresses and fairy tale sadness? Well yes, and while throwing it all together like a style princess with a Gucci handbag budget and a desire to pirouette in the spotlight might merely seem like the Kazuko modus operandi, underneath the polished showbiz gloss her heart is most definitely worn on her sleeve. Not so unusual, you might say, for did not the writers of showtunes hide their literacy and emotional targets behind bravado and lush arrangements? Indeed they did and, with updated versions of those same stylistic cues easily found within these ten songs, Calista Kazuko demonstrates that she is perfectly capable of dominating much more than the audience of submissive trendsetters at a burlesque club.
That makes “Empress” an intelligently conceived album that, for once, uses style to hide the fact that there is a real heart and soul behind the bright red lipstick kisses that Calista Kazuko has left on my bedroom mirror.
Best Song? The twisted “S.S. Lizzie.
The verdict? Intoxicatingly stylish.