The graphics on A Cheerful Little Earful by Diana Panton – and, to a certain extent, this title as well – may cue a “children’s record”, but make no mistake Miss Panton’s gorgeous winter 2019 release will have a much broader appeal. The “cheerful little earful” evokes the joy of music really. It also brings together repertoire that celebrates the creativity of timeless song from an era that is all but lost to us in an age when every recording musician seems compelled to pen his or her own songs. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there is nothing like the eternal magic of song that lives and breathes and is aglow in the Great American Songbook; songs from timeless films and Broadway hits written by masters such as Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy van Heusen, “Yip” Harburg and Burton Lane, and Cole Porter among others.
More to the point, there’s nothing like the eternal magic of this repertoire sung by Diana Panton, with the great musicianship of Don Thompson and Reg Schwager accompanying her along the way. As ever on A Cheerful Little Earful Miss Panton is on top of her game. She gives notice throughout that she is an artist of the first order.
Her instrument is gorgeous; lustrous, precise and feather-light. Her musicianship is also fierce as she digs into the meaning of each word, brings ceaseless variety to soft dynamics and gives every phase grace. As ever, in everything she sings on yet another magnificent disc, Miss Panton brings narratives vividly to life and creates rhapsodic atmosphere. Songs such as “Pocketful of Miracles” and “Look To The Rainbow” are exquisite examples of everything that is timeless and great about Miss Panton’s musicianship.
Miss Panton has the unique privilege of enjoying the extraordinary musicianship of Don Thompson, the veritable doyen of Canadian music; as well she has been fortunate to have the masterful guitarist Reg Schwager on each of her albums. Mr Thompson – whether as the arranger of note or whether on piano, bass or vibraphone – and Mr Schwager both bring deeply interiorised readings of this music.
This complements the vision and artistry of Miss Panton in a matchless way. This music, as with that of her other albums, is light on melancholy, and saturated with the imaginative and luminous colour of joy. These, and other reasons mentioned in the course of this review make A Cheerful Little Earful an irresistible record, one that is likely to also garner many accolades as it gets its rightful due on radio and other media.
Track list – 1: Happy Talk; 2: It’s A Most Unusual Day; 3: “A” Your Adorable; 4: Red Red Robin; 5: I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon; 6: Cheerful Little Earful; 7: If You Feel Like Singing, Sing; 8: Music And Me; 9: Pocketful Of Miracles; 10: Look To The Rainbow; 11: All In The Golden Afternoon; 12: Experiment; 13: Aren’t You Glad You’re You? 14: Sing A Rainbow; 15: Hush-A-Bye
Personnel – Diana Panton: vocals; Reg Schwager: guitar; Don Thompson: bass, piano and vibraphone
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 53:47