When Steve Tyrell talks about his life and career, he lets you know that he was first a singer and performer, then put that career on hold for roughly 30 years while he worked as a producer of music for both recordings and film soundtracks. He only became a singer again thanks to something of an accident, when the makers of Father of the Bride decided that they wanted to use his voice in the 1992 Steve Martin comedy Father of the Bride – which was not what he had originally intended. That was more than 25 years ago, and he's recorded over a dozen albums of his own since then, and toured the world as one of the most popular vocalists of the millennial era.
Yet the careers of singer and producer are not quite so unconnected as it might seem – in fact, one of the reasons he's so successful as a singer is because he knows how to produce himself so brilliantly. For instance, he surprised all of his old fans this time around at the Carlyle when he debuted a whole new rhythm section. His steadfast lieutenants, keyboardist Jon Allen and guitarist Bob Mann, but now there's two musicians who have already distinguished themselves playing around New York, pianist Andy Ezrin and drummer Bryan Carter. But the big "add" is Lymann Medeiros, who triples as bassist, back-up singer, and musical director. It's in his capacity as producer that Mr. Tyrell is most keenly aware that the voice is more than a delivery system for lyrics, but a sonic element in its own right. With Mr. Medeiros supplumenting his vocals, all of a sudden, he gets an even warmer, more intimate and compelling sound – and somehow even his perennial tunes, like "The Way You Look Tonight" now sound even more convincing than before.
It's also as a producer that Mr. Tyrell has perfected a blend of traditional songbook standards and more contemporary love songs, as heard on his current album, A Song For You which is one of his best. It contains Van Morrison's "Someone Like You," which I have come to think is an even better signature song for him than "The Way You Look Tonight." That's the track I find myself playing over and over on Apple music, and wishing that Mr. Martin would make a new movie called Grandfather of the Bride so that that Mr. Tyrell would have the proper showcase for it. (Are you listening, Hollywood? No charge.)
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photo by Stephen Sorokoff
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