Frank Sinatra, The Voice

Will Friedwald

By Will Friedwald

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Voice

Frank Sinatra
The original pop “concept” album from an American music legend

A landmark in American music, The Voice, recorded and released in 1945, is generally regarded as the original pop "concept" album: this was the first time a singer and arranger (the brilliant Axel Stordahl) assembled a program of songs in a distinct mood and tempo, so that one song would flow into another in a consistent program (even though it was initially released as a collection of single-track 78RPM discs). Making the set even more remarkable, Sinatra built this pioneering effort of eight classic songs — an innovation in itself at a time when singers recorded contemporary hits almost exclusively. Sinatra and Stordahl juxtaposed a jazz rhythm section and soloists with a classical string quartet for a chamber-style backing that set off Sinatra's vocals like pearls on velvet. Sinatra's breathlessly intimate vocalizing on "I Don't Know Why" and "The Nearness of You," still retains its amazing tenderness after 60 years. This expanded CD edition contains all of Sinatra and Stordahl's chamber sessions of the period (the precursor to the classic album Close To You) and illustrates how, even at this early stage of the game, Sinatra can make you feel every nuance of every word of every lyric.