When vocal phenom Nikki Yanofsky released her sophomore album four years ago, she was barely old enough to drive. Suddenly, the pert Montrealer is all grown up, striking a Dusty Springfield-esque pose on the cover of Little Secrets, clearly meant to prove that—with apologies to Gary Puckett—this girl is a woman now.
Equally arresting is her change in musical direction. Gone are the standards, most plucked from the Ella and Billie songbooks, which were once her calling card. The resultant playlist, including 11 songs co-written by her, suggests impressive progression from hero-worship to self-actualization. (It’s hardly surprising that the high-voltage opener is called “Something New.”)
Neither entirely pop nor truly jazz, Little Secret is perhaps best described as jazz-informed pop, and it’s squarely aimed at Yanofsky-aged (or younger) listeners. Hence the inclusion of sizzlers like “Bang” (which suggests a lost James Bond theme), the onomatopoeic “Kaboom Pow” and others, like “Blessed With Your Curse” and “Necessary Evil,” that embrace a romantic sensibility more Kim Kardashian than Cole Porter. Even “Jeepers Creepers,” the sole nod to the past, is supercharged with dance-floor fervor. Above all else, it’s slick and polished, thanks to the involvement of executive producer Quincy Jones, who certainly knows a thing or two about boosting careers toward pop stardom.