After the interesting detour that was last year's small group instrumental triumph Other Hours (recorded for Branford Marsalis' label) and a pit stop for the sweetly sentimental seasonal offering Harry for the Holidays, Harry Connick Jr. returns to the road more traveled with Only You (Columbia). For this latest collection of cream-filled standards Harry has, like so many of his contemporaries, decided to embrace material from the '50s and '60s. But typical of the consistently imaginative Connick, he does so with a twist.
For Only You, Connick is backed by trio mates Neal Caine (on bass) and Arthur Latin II (on drums) and a big band-which the singer-pianist conducts and whose elegant arrangements he wrote. Connick alternates between songs written decades earlier and subsequently repopularized-for instance, the 1927 chestnut "My Blue Heaven," which was reshaped into a 1956 Fats Domino rocker, or 1934's "I Only Have Eyes for You," which resurfaced as a 1959 doo-wop million-seller for the Flamingos-and tunes like "Save the Last Dance for Me" (1955) and "You Don't Know Me" (1960) that sound as if they could have come from the glory days of Tin Pan Alley.
The true highlights of this multishaded collection are, however, Connick's smoky interpretation of the familiar Mondo Cane theme "More," the joyfully anticipatory "For Once in My Life" (here nicely softened around the edges) and the album's one genuinely contemporary track, the hauntingly reflective Connick original "Other Hours" (which appeared, sans vocal, as the title track of his previous disc).