Album Review of
Into My Heart

Written by Joe Ross
May 16, 2021 - 1:02am EDT
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Vocalist Jeannine Otis released her first album, Magic Song, in 1980, and it was subsequently re-released in 2003 and 2013. Her new project, Into My Heart, is a welcome addition to her catalogue that has her hypnotic voice in the spotlight creating impressionistic background music celebrating life and love. Lilting melodies and tender sentiments permeate originals like the Latinesque “Mood is for Lovin’” and covers like “In a Sentimental Mood.” Most arrangements are in sparse duo settings while four tracks feature a larger ensemble. Accompanied by guitarist Saul Rubin, Otis’ renditions of “Sweet Sad Guitar,” “Lover Man,” “Cokika” and “In a Sentimental Mood” are enchanting. Her self-penned “Touch Me Tonight” creates a dreamy landscape with the support of pianist Johnathan Sherry. On a few tracks, In My Heart features Stanley Banks (bass), Sam Jacobs (congas), Jimmy Ponzi (guitar) and Stanton Davis (trumpet). An interesting change-up is the syncopated “Brazilian Jam” that Otis co-wrote with German producer, DJ Smurf (Frank Koopman). I also enjoyed the accessible melodies and good vibe in two selections written and produced by the late Onaje Allan Gumbs, a widely respected and sought-after pianist, composer, and arranger who passed away in 2020. He cut deep inroads in the R&B, smooth jazz, and hip-hop worlds. The bright lyricism and optimism in “Joy of Life” and “Into My Heart” are among Jeannine Otis’ most expressive anthems for a more hopeful and just world.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)