Less Than Three
Actually, the album’s title is <3, the emoticon that symbolizes the heart. Love is indeed abundant across these 10 tracks, extending from the ancestral pull of “Eretz Zavat Chalav” and the companion plea for peace “Nu Az Ma?,” penned by Dagan, to the irresistible pulchritude of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and tender devotion of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Amor even figures into the peppy “Googleable,” a paean to the search engine’s ubiquity; it includes the fact that googling “love” nets two trillion results.
Though the disc runs a scant 34 minutes, Dagan packs it with plenty of interpretive punch. His “Strangers in the Night” gallops with frantic urgency. Conversely, Madonna’s ebullient “Lucky Star” is reimagined as an inky ballad, ideally suited to Dagan’s roguish bass-baritone. He takes the fiery foreplay of Evita’s “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You” and, with exquisite assistance from Jane Bunnett on soprano sax, transforms its devilish lure into near-angelic yearning. Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” ignites a brief but rigorous display of his considerable scat skills. And, perhaps most ingenious, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” is stripped bare of Elvis’ throbbing desire and remodeled as a delicate valentine.