Originally published (read full article) at: Atwood Magazine

Jazz singer Karen Souza’s latest song, “You Got That Something” feat. TOKU, addresses the question – “Do they make music like that anymore?” Answer: Absolutely.

The sexy smoldering slide of Karen Souza’s voice can transport any song from hoppy pop to classy sass. So when producers of Jazz and 80s (PMB ’05) enlisted Ms. Souza to smooth out the radio wrinkles of The Culture Club’s classic “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” she found her notable niche in the musiverse. Backed eventually by a group of musicians called The Cooltrane Quartet, Ms. Souza became the vixen of vintage variations, a leader of pop song’s world of loungey jazz covers.

A brave and benevolent (band) leader, Ms. Souza has proven herself time and again to be the sultry warbling whisperer of covers such as Radiohead’s “Creep”, Oasis’s “Live Forever” and even Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. Successfully spinning these songs in a jazzy silk, Ms. Souza’s very loyal subjects trust her to put a  classy twist on all of their old favorites.

Velvet Vault – Karen Souza
Since 2011, the vintage vixen has released 5 albums of covers as a soloist and more with The Cooltrane Quartet. But, Ms. Karen is no one trick vixen. Nestled in with the cornucopia of covers galore on her latest album Velvet Vault (’17) are some very well interpreted jazz standards. Which proves to an even broader, perhaps older generation of the music world that Ms. Souza’s chops are legitimate, and her kudos well earned.

Songs like “I Fall in Love Too Easily” (’44) by Jule Styne and made famous by Frank Sinatra on the 1945 “Anchors Aweigh” soundtrack, make so much sense swirling over Ms Souza’s lips. It proves a point that has been up for discussion between young and old music lovers for generations: “Do they make music like that anymore?”

It’s inevitable, almost clock set-able, that while listening to music with any Jazz-Cat of the traditionalist generation the words “they don’t make music like that anymore” will be said wistfully. Indeed, the music born of the “old days” is incredibly classy and cultivated.  Songs considered jazz standards, penned at the dawn of the twentieth century, do have a certain snap and swing that can immediately turn any gathering into a high-brow soirée. With charming love-struck lyrics, these songs were meant for getting all gussied up and dancing with your “steady” at the social club. Benchmarks of a time when people still blushed at a peck on the cheek, it’s understandable why anyone would want more of these songs around.


Luckily, contrary to “Silent Generation” elitism,  classy and cultivated music is not exclusive to the days of yore. Alongside the standards and covers on Velvet Vault are some swingin’ originals. For example, “You Got That Something” was actually written by Karen Souza herself. Ms. Souza shares this charming number with Japanese flugelhorn player and rat pack croon-alike TOKU in a very “Baby It’s Cold Outside” call and response dalliance.

He:​ You’re impossibly lovely
She: ​You’re rather swell yourself
He:​ Oh, you do fascinate me
She: ​You’re smooth as hell
He:​ Oooh, I’d love to get closer
She: ​You really do have your lines…down…
He:​ You’re a cool one!
She:​ Wonderful song that’s playin’
He:​ Would you like to dance?
She: ​I didn’t plan on staying
He:​ Stay and take a chance
Both: ​You came out of nowhere –
you’re takin’ my breath away
Swing? Check! Class? Check! A charming love story?  Check check check!


The smooth and genteel connection between Ms. Souza and TOKU makes this song feel like a standard from the ol’days.  When it first played in my ears, I knew right away that I needed to learn more. Knowing that Ms. Souza got her start in the vintage variations velt, I was sure this was more of the same. Perhaps an old standby with it’s own Wikipedia entry explaining its origins and history, listing artists who have covered it in the past, movies it’s been featured in etc. I googled “You Got That Something” + jazz standard, to no avail.  There were no such articles. It was clear, this song was a brand new construction filled with the charm and class of the best jazz standards around.

He:​ May I make a suggestion?
She: ​I’m afraid to hear
He:​ Would you like to get closer?
She:​ You’re awf’lly near
She: ​I’m inclined to believe that you’re flirting
– but I kinda like it
He: Making Progress!
She: ​Wonderful song that’s playin’
He: ​Won’t you say you’ll dance?
She: ​I can’t believe I’m staying
He:​ We only get one chance
Both:​ You came out of nowhere –
you’re takin’ my breath away
The flavor of “You Got That Something” certainly does hail from the purer and sweetly romantic past.  A more wholesome time, before swiping right or left was how people met. When love, romance and well thought out poetic conversation (and sometimes gentle coercion) was part of courtship and, eventually, maybe more.

So, the next time someone sighs sadly and laments that good music is no longer being born, put on “You Got That Something,” stand back with a confident smile and let this current jazzy number (respectfully) prove them fogies wrong.