Jane Monheit: The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me

Working down the Jane Monheit checklist, does The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me deliver everything we’ve come to count on from the jazz-cabaret chanteuse? Creamy covers of classic ballads? Yep, including rich, smooth, molasses-slow renditions of “I’m Glad There Is You” and “Lucky to Be Me.” Silk-lined treatments of more contemporary material? Check, courtesy of languorous re-workings of Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Like a Star,” Fiona Apple’s “Slow Like Honey” and Paul Simon’s achingly bittersweet “I Do It for Your Love.” A dash of Brazil, expertly served up in Portuguese? Indeed, with a shimmering saunter through “A Primeira Vez” accompanied solely by Romero Lubambo’s guitar.

But there’s more to Monheit’s latest than simply the expected. There’s a heightened maturity, a sense that she’s entering a distinctly more confident and self-satisfied phase. For proof, it’s easy to point to Monheit’s fine handling of “Something Cool” and “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men.” But both tunes are so thematically ripe that any first-rate singer could capture their narrative pathos. The real revelation here is her handling of Ivan Lins’ “No Tomorrow.” Monheit navigates the lyric’s emotional tug-of-war with a sagacity and sophistication worthy of Peggy Lee at her best. More than merely exquisite, the track elevates her from very good to great.