Bill Carpenter called Stay the Night “a subtle, sensitive try at the Top 40,” and he was absolutely right. This is Jane Olivor’s strongest effort to climb the charts since she and producer Jason Darrow almost reached adult contemporary fame with “One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round.” That Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield composition got moderate middle-of-the-road airplay and was followed up two years later by the Neil Sedaka/Phil Cody song “Solitaire,” a wonderful reading on Stay the Night. Since Karen Carpenter took that song to the Top 20 in 1975 (number one adult contemporary), it becomes a nice cover version on this album. Jane Olivor’s real strength, however, comes when she takes on her own composition, “The Right Garden,” where she lets go with all her talent and vocal expression. One can understand her need to reach a wider audience, and her single version of the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” is wonderful, but she was competing with Kristy McNichol and her brother, Jimmy McNichol, and their version actually charted in Cashbox. Artistically, the more comfortable zone for Olivor is the title track, “Stay the Night” (not the Ben Orr hit from 1987), her own “Let’s Make Some Memories,” or producer Jason Darrow’s “Honesty.” “Stay the Night” is majestic, “Honesty” is dramatic, and the perfect instrument that is Olivor’s voice was much too refined for the gritty Top 40 of the time. Sure, had she stumbled on a song like “MacArthur Park” she may have had an odd hit at the time, as Richard Harris did in the ’60s, but the times were more suited to Donna Summer taking that particular tune to number one on the dancefloors. The production on Love Decides, released in 2000, is more suited to Olivor’s passionate spirit, but there are great moments here. “Can’t We Make It Right Again” would have charted had Gladys Knight given it the treatment, but that isn’t fair because this is really the most commercial song on the album — Olivor venturing into Melissa Manchester territory. Had Maria Callas gone pop, she may have been Jane Olivor’s true competition, and it is that operatic style which makes this work classy, but alien to intense ’70s radio play. Stay the Night is a very listenable, very beautiful, very accessible album from Jane Olivor, with acoustic guitars, strings, and elegance galore.
Video: Jane Olivor – Stay The Night (1978)
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