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April 2007

Jane Monheit
Surrender
Concord Records

Nearly three years have passed since Taking a Chance on Love, Jane Monheit’s charming salute to tunes from MGM musicals of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, but the gap since her last foray into the Great American Songbook has done nothing to diminish the beauty of her buttercream voice. With its vintage theme, that previous album was ideally suited to Jane’s rather retro essence, a quality built around both a look (sort of Peggy Lee meets Ann-Margret) and sound (chamois soft and eiderdown dreamy) that seem to demand a gleaming grand piano, a drop-dead evening gown, candlelight and shadowed tables for two tucked inside some plush, uptown watering hole. Now, on her welcome Concord debut, Jane’s intime jazz-meets-cabaret vibe remains fully intact as her playlist moves forward in time and southward in spirit. In other words, straight-up late-20th-century pop with a Brazilian chaser. And so, the seductive coo of Peter Eldridge’s title track, the indigo velvet vastness of Sergio Mendes’ “So Many Stars” (produced and arranged by Mendes and featuring the master himself on piano) and an “A Time for Love” as fragile as a hummingbird’s wing balanced with Jobim’s “Caminhos Cruzados” and “Só Tinha de Ser Com Vocé” and Ivan Lins’ “Rio de Maio” (with Lins himself providing vocal accompaniment) performed in flawless Portuguese. Though none of the 10 tracks can be perceived as startlingly novel or daring, all are consistent with the warm, lovely and eminently accomplished work Monheit has been delivering since her 2000 debut.

Originally published in April 2007
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