A Thousand Beautiful Things
If creaky Paul Anka can take a headlong dive into the contemporary pop-rock-alt-grunge canon and manage to come up smelling like an Axl Rose, a likeminded journey should be a doddle for the exponentially more dynamic Janis Siegel. As, indeed, it is.
Luxuriating in a scintillating Latin groove (courtesy of pianist Edsel Gomez, percussionist Luisito Quintero, Columbian harpist Edmar Castaneda and a phalanx of equally invigorating accompanists), the seasoned Manhattan Transferee puts her singularly intelligent stamp on well-chosen selections from Bjork ("Hidden Place"), Nellie McKay ("The Suitcase Song"), Raul Midon (a shimmering "Make It Better"), Stevie Wonder (a wildly contented "I Can't Help It") and Annie Lennox (the hauntingly gorgeous title track). Scrumptious as each is, none can quite compare with Siegel's steamy take on Suzanne Vega's "Caramel," imbued with a deep, succulent warmth that's about two degrees short of illegal.