Imagine a smoky, sonic concoction with equal parts sugar and whiskey, and you've got something close to Shelly Rudolph's voice. While there's some world-weariness behind it, her rich contralto brings out the sweetness even when things get sad. She glides more than capers, often packing a lot of nuance into one drawn-out note. The Way We Love makes a setting to perfectly play to her strengths, full of dreamy balladry and drawing on a deep well of soul.
The backing is on the sparse side—largely sunny piano with guitar, sax or strings sprinkled around as called for—which puts the songs' simple beauty front and center. While things stay largely in that one mode (an overly cutesy spoken title track aside), the singing provides all the variety and heart this recording needs. "The Slow Life" makes one particular highlight with Redray Frazier stepping up to duet, while a soothing "Stand by Me" and suddenly exuberant gospel closer provide other charming surprises. Whatever the material, Rudolph has enough diva class and bluesy grit to carry the day.