Tunes for tough times: such was Andrea Marcovicci’s goal when she set about assembling her 17th album. Noting, of late, a heightened sense of gloom among her audience members, the celebrated cabaret songstress decided to lay down her torch and serve up some mood-brightening fare. Indeed, there is plenty to smile about as Marcovicci navigates 21 tunes of various optimistic shades, ranging from the sweet contentment of “It Had to Be You” to the downright silliness of “Mairzy Doats.”
But Marcovicci is far too skilled an interpreter to merely dish out cheer. With her immaculate phrasing and tremulous vibrato, she suggests a strict schoolmarm, but one with an underlying saucy streak. So the cynicism at the heart of the Depression-era ditty “Ain’t We Got Fun” shines through, the double entendres peppered throughout “Umbrella Man” are coyly plucked, and the emotional codependency of “Sometimes I’m Happy” and “It All Depends on You” is cunningly exposed.
And though Marcovicci’s playlist favors durable chestnuts, she also inserts a few intriguing surprises, including lyricist Marshall Barer’s lilting “Beyond Compare,” an ingenious treatment of Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” and, most delightfully, “Shakespeare Lied,” Elmer Bernstein and Carolyn Leigh’s biting rewrite of history’s tragic love affairs.