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Jon Lucien: Romantico

Now recording on his own Sugar Apple label, the legendary vocalist and bassist Jon Lucien goes full on, orchestral retro-romantic for the aptly titled Romantico (Sugar Apple 1001; 33:43). Using a light, Caribbean palette, Lucien fronts classic pop-balladeer orchestrations that are sure to please. It takes three symphony orchestras (the New York Orchestra, London Symphony and Chicago Symphony) to support Lucien’s deep baritone vocals, and they do the job, with swelling strings a particular plus to Lucien’s romantic writing. This stellar support gives a lift to the R&B-flavored pop of “I Like It,” and adds warm ballad strings to “Takes More Than Words,” giving truly classic character to Lucien’s croon, “darling if you looked this way, my eyes could speak to you.” The blissful feeling of “Too Damn Hot” is aided by bubbling rhythms and a rising horn section, as well as Lucien’s popping bass and vocalese. The album’s centerpiece is the dark, richly arranged “Sempre Maria,” with Spanish guitar flair and drama, detailed percussion and drum talk surrounding Lucien’s swoon-inducing vocals. After all this time, Lucien remains a classic romancer of the first order.

Originally Published