New contemporary territory in characteristically smouldering fashion.
Michael Quinn 2009-03-03
Jane Monheit's ninth album in as many years takes the sultry chanteuse into new contemporary territory in characteristically smouldering fashion.
Taking its title from the wistful lyrics of the Kenny Ascher/Paul Williams-penned Muppet Show favourite, Rainbow Connection (heard here in a sweet, sleepy-eyed, accordion-accompanied arrangement by Gil Goldstein), The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me has much that will please Monheit's existing admirers and several attractive enticements for new listeners.
At the album's core, as you might expect, lies the Great American Songbook, with Jimmy Dorsey's quiet paean to love, I'm Glad There Was You, and Cole Porter's sassy celebration of independence, Get Out of Town, showcasing Monheit's inimitably understated way with a lyric.
Lucky to Be Me, Leonard Bernstein's happy hymnal to the self, neatly arranged, like the Dorsey, by Michael Kanen, allows proud new parent Monheit a moment of blissed-out self-satisfaction. Away from the warm glow of newfound maternity, the accomplished take on June Christy signature, Something Cool, is as fine a display of Monheit's seemingly effortless art as anything she has committed to disc since her fine debut, Never Never Land, in 2000.
It's the recent material that draws a more pronounced edge from Monheit. Corrine Bailey Rae’s Like a Star is meltingly melancholic, the cover of Fiona Apple's Slow Like Honey a moodier, more darkly mellow affair, and Bonnie Rait's I Ain’t Gonna Let You Break My Heart a downhearted but determinedly defiant declaration.
Add to the mix a dash of Brazilian exotica in No Tomorrow, a re-working of Ivan Lins' seminal Acaso, and the delicious samba sashay of Bide-Armando Marcal's A Primera Vez, and the quietly simmering brew comes to the boil with polished perfection.
Veteran producer Matt Pierson's delightfully discrete framing and arrangers Michael Kanen and Gil Goldstein's gossamer-delicate take on the familiar and the fresh provides Monheit with a softly enchanting landscape that borders on the sensuous and is never less than wholly seductive.