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08/23/13

Harry Connick Jr.
Every Man Should Know
Columbia Records

Hot on the heels of Smokey Mary, his vivid salute to his hometown of New Orleans, Harry Connick’s latest reveals two intriguing facts about the former boy wonder of jazz. First, at age 45, Connick has settled into a middle-age sound that recalls Sinatra’s early Reprise years, when the Chairman himself was navigating his mid-40s. Subtle hints of grit and gravel have invaded Connick’s voice and, as with Sinatra, they suit him well, ushering in a more mature, wiser and slightly world-weary style.

Second, Connick is a world-class tunesmith. His songwriting abilities have, of course, been showcased on earlier albums. But Every Man Should Know—comprising a dozen original compositions, all featuring Connick at the keyboards alongside a shifting assortment of sidemen—demonstrates far greater prowess. Again: mature and wise. The dense, passionate “I Love Her,” set to a Latin beat (with guitarist Jonathan DuBose Jr. channeling José Feliciano) is, in its deceptive simplicity, worthy of Cole Porter, while the gentle heartbreaker “Come See About Me,” propelled by Aubrey Haynie’s mandolin, is easily on par with the best of Jimmy Webb.

Songs as varied as the dreamily sexy “One Fine Thing,” cozy “Being Alone” (with a warm, lazy trumpet solo from Wynton Marsalis), sweetly swinging “Greatest Love Story” (a tribute to both his late mother and his wife) and driving, tenacious “You’ve Got It” all point to a dynamic new chapter in Connick’s already storied career.

Originally published in July/August 2013
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