DJ Sweeney is a fine singer who has a straightforward delivery, swings lightly, and mostly sticks to the words and melody of the songs that she interprets. She was in Los Angeles for a time but has since relocated to Kansas City. For her self-titled debut, she is joined by a top-notch quartet that includes guitarist Danny Embrey and pianist Paul Smith.
Sweeney adds joy and life to a variety of older standards including "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart And Throw Away The Key," "You Turned The Tables On Me" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Other than "My Love Is," all of the songs are at least several decades old but she makes them sound relevant, fairly modern and fun.
The music is never complex or complicated, so a long analysis is unnecessary. Simply put, DJ Sweeney sings some of her favorite songs in a likable and accessible fashion while joined by some of Kansas City's top musicians. The only fault to this set (which is available from is its brief length (around 36 minutes) but it is easy to enjoy and a strong debut effort.
Scott Yanow
L.A. Jazz Scene Magazine

Recorded at Soundtrek Studios, March 2006, Ron Ubel, engineer. Produced by Danny Embrey

This is DJ Sweeney's debut recording, an LP-length collection of swingers, standards, and blues, backed expertly by Danny Embrey, Paul Smith, Craig Akin, and Tim Cambron. Having this crew is usually a guarantee that the jazz will be good, and that is the case here as each are allowed ample solo space throughout. Listeners familiar with this rhythm section already know what to expect-they are among the finest players in the area, and they are near the top of their straight-ahead game on these nine cuts.

Sweeney has a very smooth, natural sounding voice, never trying to over-embellish. She seems to allow the music to carry the day, rather than just be a showcase for her vocal talents.

The delivery and groove on "Im Gonna Lock My Heart and Throw Away the Key" is reminiscent of an Etta Jones outing. DJ is soulful like Etta, and swings right along with the band. The exchange of fours is a good introduction of what Danny, Paul, Craig, and Tim add.

The blues "My Love Is" has Smith over in the organ chair and he provides the solo and color for DJ here. "Tables" is sung simply, you can tell that the turning of the tables was no real surprise well before she admits that was truly the case. Paul (back at the Piano) and Craig each get a solo turn here. "Small Day Tomorrow" is a Bob Dorough tune, and Sweeney seems maybe a little sad that her life flies under the radar. There is a lot of help underneath from the rhythm section on this track. Get the picture? Successful song stylists tell a story and they "act" with their inflections and phrasing. and DJ takes this approach.

There are two "Kiss" songs here, both less frequently performed standards. An uncredited harmonica - no, that's Danny using the synth on his guitar - adds much to " A Kiss to Build a Dream On" (Louis Armstrong's version in "Sleepless in Seattle," if you need a reminding point of reference). You could picture "Knock Me a Kiss" as a Nat Cole trio-plus-drums vehicle...and it was, from his MacGregor Tran____scription recordings.

"You'd Be So Nice" shows that DJ can navigate a fast flag waver of a swinger; and so can Smith and Cambron in their exchange of fours.

"I Can't Give You Anything" is the closer, and is pure balladry - or is it? DJ opens in duo with Paul's piano and you think it is, then after a chorus it turns into an easy finger-snapping four-four. Embrey and Akin solo before DJ takes it out.

After the initial listen, a family member mentioned that they would enjoy hearing DJ Sweeney sing live. I suspect that other listeners will have a similar reaction; The songs are enjoyable, and the presentations here only enhance them. The set selection would work well in a club - the pacing keeps the listener involved. A successful outing for DJ Sweeney.

-Roger Atkinson

Editor of JAM Magazine

Are You The One?

Licensed Cover

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You'd Be so Nice to Come Home To

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Comments                                                Add new Comment   View All

D.J. Sweeney

10/1/2008 12:11:51 PM
Shave and a haircut! Hilarious!

Hugh Hamilton

9/30/2008 11:31:29 AM
Thanks for the invitation to have a listen...I'm snappin' my fingers and tappin' my toe to "Are You The One"...makes me tempted to get a shave and a haircut...heck, while I'm at it maybe even an upright bass (lol)...sounds real nice, D.J. - keep on swingin'!

Hugh Hamilton

1/22/2008 7:33:13 AM
"You'd Be So Nice..." has it ALL, D.J. - vocals, axe, drums...way to be!



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