If you have a particular fondness for the post-Rat Pack, pre-opera-cape Sinatra of the late '60s and early '70s, you're sure to get a kick out of Matt Dusk. The latest in the ever-expanding conga line of young male crooners that includes Ian Shaw, Peter Cincotti, Michael Buble and Jamie Cullum, Dusk falls somewhere in the middle of the pack-echoing the sparkling originality of Brits Shaw and Cullum, bolder than Cincotti and significantly more interesting than fellow Canadian Buble. Dusk, who is currently appearing, appropriately enough, as an aspiring lounge singer in the reality TV series The Casino, invokes the spirit of vintage Vegas hipsterism throughout his debut disc, Two Shots (Decca).
Blending distinctly Sinatra-esque swagger with a sound more suggestive of Steve Lawrence, and waist deep in grandiose arrangements that are dripping with Sin City excess, Dusk turns the clock back some four decades. It's twilight time at the Sands, circa 1966, and the singer's in a melancholy mood. He sings of love and loss with the bravado of a guy who's had one for his baby and several more for the road. "Two Shots," written by Bono for Sinatra but never recorded by the Chairman, and at least nine of the other 11 tracks assembled here evoke memories of such hard-living Francis Albert anthems as "It Was a Very Good Year," "This Is All I Ask" and "I Will Drink the Wine." Dusk also serves up a stunningly sensual "Please Please Me" that broadly winks at the real meaning of those seemingly innocent Lennon-McCartney lyrics, and dusts off Bart Howard's "Fly Me to the Moon" to gorgeous effect.
It's all kinda cool and cunning-perhaps a bit derivative, and maybe a shade too retro, yet marvelously clever and impressively energetic.